/ Modified oct 22, 2020 4:24 p.m.

News roundup: Final presidential debate, OSIRIS-REx mission shows signs of success

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Oct. 22.

Cases 234,906 | Deaths 5,859

On Thursday, Oct. 22, the state reported 994 new cases of novel coronavirus and five additional deaths. Health officials worry that cases could continue to rise around the Thanksgiving holiday, the Associated Press reports.

High stakes for Trump, Biden heading into final debate


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It's debate night for President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden. They will square off in Nashville in their final face-to-face confrontation before the election.

It's one of the last high-profile opportunities for the trailing president to change the trajectory of an increasingly contentious campaign. Some Trump advisers are urging him to trade his aggressive demeanor for a lower-key style, hoping Biden will get himself in trouble with verbal gaffes. But it’s hardly clear that the president will listen.

There were supposed to be three debates, but the second was canceled after Trump got COVID-19 and then objected to the resulting revised format.

Learn more here.

Coverage, footage and analysis of the debate are available here.

Do political debates still have value?


Expect more political debates in the future, no matter what happens in the presidential showdown between Donald Trump and Joe Biden tonight. That’s the view of a University of Arizona expert on civil discourse.

Keith Allred studied the first debate between Biden and Trump, in which the candidates spent most of the time responding to insults instead of addressing issues.

Despite the chaos and incivility produced in the first meeting, Allred notes voters still believe debates are an essential part of choosing their preferred candidate for public office, and adds it's ultimately up to the public to tell the candidates enough is enough.

"I think we're going to have to stand up and be clear about that, and expect more out of our parties and our candidates," said Allred. “I think Americans still want to see candidates exchanging ideas in debates, but they don’t want to see an exchange of insults like in the first debate."

Your Vote 2020
Read more coverage of national, Arizona, and local elections at our 2020 elections portal, Your Vote 2020.

Preliminary data suggests OSIRIS-REx sample event a success


The first pictures beamed back to Earth from asteroid Bennu showed exactly what the OSIRIS-REx team was hoping to see after its sample collection event: surface material moving around the collection unit.

The pictures showed the craft’s sampling arm touching the surface of Bennu, crushing rocks and then rocks flying up as nitrogen gas was pushed out of the craft to capture material.

“We really did make kind of a mess on the surface of the asteroid, but it is a good mess. It is the kind of mess we were hoping for. Lots of material has been mobilized,” said Dante Lauretta, University of Arizona principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx.

Learn more here.

With census field operations wrapped, concerns over count persist


The 2020 census count is officially over, and in the face of widespread concern over an inaccurate count, bureau officials say that 99.9% of households nationwide were accounted for.

"A very good census, if not an accurate census, was conducted during an unbelievably trying time for our nation," said Tim Olson, associate director for field operations for the U.S. Census Bureau.

In states which lagged in self-response, like Arizona, Olson said the bureau sent people to knock on doors — a process referred to as non-response follow-up. Over a third of Arizonans were counted this way.

While bureau officials are celebrating a virtually complete count, data experts say it's more complicated.

Learn more here.

Mission Library renamed in honor of Richard Elías


Pima County's Mission Library at 3770 S. Mission Rd. was renamed in honor of the late county supervisor Richard Elías. The Board of Supervisors approved the change this Tuesday morning.

After serving 18 years on the Board of Supervisors representing District 5, Elías died in March at age 61.

"My father would be very honored because he did ... very much appreciate the libraries because it did bring another resource of broadening someone's education, whether it was a child or an adult," said Luz Elías, daughter of Richard Elías.

In a separate vote the board also set aside $6 million to renovate and expand the branch, now called the Richard Elías-Mission Library.

Young asylum seekers In Nogales share their stories, plead for relief

Fronteras Desk

Migrants and supporters marched to the border wall in Nogales, Sonora, and Nogales, Arizona, on Wednesday to highlight the stories of children waiting south of the border to ask for asylum in the United States.

Standing next to the rust-colored steel slats of border wall in Nogales, Sonora, a young girl read off a list of names of children waiting to ask for asylum in the United States.

There was Jesus, 10, from Venezuela, who wants to be a chef. Alessandra Michelle, 11, of Honduras, who wants to be a nurse. And Juan, 5, who just hoped for "a safe future and better opportunities to continue his schooling."

They were among dozens of children who marched through Nogales, Wednesday chanting, singing and holding up handmade signs, all seeking access to asylum in the United States.

Learn more here.

Mexico’s security secretary announces he will run for governor in Sonora

Fronteras Desk

Confirming the expectations of many, Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo announced plans to resign from his post and run for governor of Sonora next June, during Mexico's upcoming elections.

He said he’s heeding calls to return to Sonora, where he will continue supporting the presidents’ political project, which they call Mexico’s fourth transformation.

Durazo, who has had a long political career, is seen by many as a likely front-runner in what is shaping up to be a race with several prominent Sonoran political figures vying for the governorship.

During his tenure as security secretary, Durazo has overseen a period of growing violence in Sonora which he attributes to intense territorial disputes between criminal groups in the region.

Arizona official expects COVID increases after Thanksgiving


PHOENIX — Arizona reported nearly 1,000 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday as the state health director said she expects a “significance increase” after Thanksgiving. Dr. Cara Christ told radio station KTAR that she's “highly concerned" because of COVID-19 increases around the country and college students and others returning to Arizona for Thanksgiving.

The state Department of Health Services reported 994 additional known COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths, increasing the state’s totals to 234,906 cases and 5,859 deaths. Arizona's COVID-19 case numbers and related hospitalizations have increased in recent weeks but remain far below summer peaks.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation reports 29 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths


WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials report 29 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 but no additional deaths for the second consecutive day.

The latest figures released Wednesday night bring the total number of cases to 11,030 with the known death toll remaining at 574. Tribal health officials said 118,092 people on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic started and 7,403 have recovered.

A shelter-in-place order, mask mandate, daily curfews and weekend lockdowns remain in effect on the Navajo Nation.

Most people experience mild or moderate symptoms with the coronavirus, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.

Learn more here.

Arizona officials push early ballots for disabled voters


PHOENIX — Arizona is home to over 2,200 assisted living facilities and nearly 150 skilled nursing facilities, whose residents may be locked down or have difficulty casting a ballot amid the coronavirus pandemic. Elections officials are urging relatives and caregivers to help people who need long-term care to sign up for an early mail ballot. The deadline to do so is Friday.

Long-term care facilities like nursing homes were hit hard by the pandemic, and many have taken extra measures to keep residents safe, such as not allowing visitors, which could make it harder for them to vote.

Learn more here.

Judge denies Arizona Dems claim to list of rejected ballots


PHOENIX — A judge in Arizona has dismissed a claim filed by the Arizona Democratic Party against Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, also a Democrat, that sought records for people whose mail ballots were rejected before Election Day.

The Democrats wanted access to the information so they could help voters fix whatever issue was wrong with their ballot, such as a mismatched signature. Fontes argued producing that list would be too burdensome on his limited staff before Election Day. Arizona law already requires officials to contact voters whose ballots were rejected and give them an opportunity to fix the mistake.

Learn more here.

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