/ Modified feb 9, 2021 3:53 p.m.

News roundup: Climate plan seeks community input, UA plans for more in-person classes

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Feb. 9.

Arizona COVID-19 cases: 7 days

Map shows COVID-19 cases and case rates over the week preceding the last update.

Credit: Nick O'Gara/AZPM. Sources: The New York Times, based on reports from state and local health agencies, Census Bureau. Case reports do not correspond to day of test.

Cases 787,268 | Deaths 14,286

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, Arizona reported 4,381 new cases of COVID-19 and 231 additional deaths.

Tucson mayor asks community for help guiding climate action plan


Tucson Mayor Regina Romero is asking the community to complete a survey to guide priorities for the city's climate action plan.

The survey asks for basic demographic information, then allows the respondent to prioritize various actions the city could take in energy, planning and development, transportation, and waste.

It also includes questions about climate hazards such as wildfires and poorer air quality. And it solicits feedback on priorities for equity and environmental justice and community involvement around sustainability and climate.

Learn more here.

UA readies for more in-person classes


The University of Arizona expects to move to Phase 2 for classes beginning Feb. 22.

Phase 2 allows classes of fewer than 50 people to meet in-person so long as all students and teachers wear masks and social distancing is observed in the classroom.

The university will move to Phase 2 if COVID-19 cases continue to fall in Pima County and Arizona, according to university officials.

UA President Robert Robbins said he hopes by the time the fall semester begins in August, classes can be largely in-person.

Learn more here.

Child COVID cases starting to be studied


One of the unsolved mysteries about COVID-19 is why it has a lesser impact on children, even kids with asthma.

University of Arizona pediatric researcher Fernando Martinez says children in general are at lower risk for COVID-19, but why the disease does not affect those with asthma is especially interesting.

Martinez warns children should still take the same precautions against COVID-19 because they can still carry and spread the disease.

Learn more here.

Tucson council looking at 911 dispatch center


Tucson leaders continue to monitor the city's 9-1-1 call center after a consultant's report revealed morale issues and high turnover among the staff members who answer calls for help.

Last fall, a Phoenix consulting firm examined the newly consolidated Public Service Communication Department, formed by combining Tucson's police and fire dispatch units in 2017. After interviewing more than 100 employees, consultants reported a culture of fear and resentment among people from different departments forced to work together.

In the four months since that report, the 911 center has had more problems.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation getting nearly 29K doses of COVID-19 vaccines


WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation officials say they are getting nearly 29,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week plus 82 more federal personnel to help with vaccinations.

Tribal President Jonathan Nez says the goal is to administer 100,000 total doses of the vaccines by the end of this month. Navajo Nation health officials say the tribe will be receiving 26,000 more doses of the Moderna vaccine and 2,925 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Nez says that as of Sunday, the Navajo Area Indian Health Service received 78,520 vaccine doses and 74,048 of those doses have been administered — a 94% efficiency rate so far.

The vast reservation covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Learn more here.

State creating rental aid program for impacts from pandemic


PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey announced Tuesday that Arizona will launch a new federally funded program to provide rental assistance to people in need of housing help due to unemployment and certain other circumstances caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Ducey's office said the Arizona program will start taking applications on Feb. 23 and provide help in 12 of the state’s 15 counties. According to Ducey's office, Maricopa, Pima and Yuma are receiving federal funding directly and plan their own rental assistance programs. The state program will provide direct payments for rent, utilities and other expenses related to housing stability.

The state on Tuesday reported 4,381 additional known COVID-19 cases and 231 additional deaths.

Learn more here.

Judge refuses to block Arizona's new education tax


PHOENIX — A judge is refusing to temporarily block a new voter-approved tax on high-earning Arizonans designed to boost school funding.

The Tuesday ruling from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah Jr. says the Republican lawmakers and others who sued have not shown they are likely to win their argument that the new law is unconstitutional. The challengers include the Republican leaders of the Arizona Legislature.

The judge rejected three separate constitutional challenges brought by opponents of Proposition 208. He rejected another constitutional challenge last month.

The case could now head to a full trial, but that could take years.

Learn more here.

Fresh funding aims to revitalize Indigenous oral history


A major effort is getting underway at several universities, tribal museums and libraries to digitize the oral histories of thousands of Native Americans.

The recordings were collected a half century ago as part of a project initiated by the late philanthropist Doris Duke.

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has awarded more than $1.6 million to help with the translation and transcription of the recordings so they can be accessible to Native communities, students and the wider public. Plans also call for expanding the collections with contemporary voices.

The recordings come from a pivotal time in U.S. history when the civil rights movement spurred greater visibility of minority populations, including Native Americans.

Learn more here.

Though Worries Remain, Sonoran COVID-19 Numbers Start Heading In Right Direction

Fronteras Desk

After setting tragic new case and death records last month, Sonora is starting February with some promising data: new weekly cases and deaths are declining, as is the hospital occupation rate, according to state health authorities. Just two cities — Hermosillo and Navojoa — remain at maximum risk of spread, down from six the week before.

Sonora as a whole is still considered orange, or high risk, by the federal government, but is getting close to yellow, or moderate risk.

While the state appears to be on its way down from the second wave, state health authorities remain worried.

Learn more here.

Mexico’s President Is Back — And Still Maskless — After Getting COVID-19

Fronteras Desk

MEXICO CITY — Two weeks ago, Mexico’s president announced that he had contracted COVID-19. He reappeared in a press conference, showing no intention of changing his relaxed approach toward the pandemic. Mexico has had almost 2 million COVID cases and nearly 170,000 deaths.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador walked into a hall with reporters without wearing a facemask and was asked if he will ever wear one.

His reply: “No.” López Obrador said he is not contagious.

Learn more here.

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