Thursday, July 9, 2020

Ducey Announces More Testing Initiatives, Limited Capacity in Restaurants as COVID-19 Cases Spike

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 4:59 PM

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During a press conference this afternoon, Gov. Doug Ducey was in the hot seat as reporters asked why he hasn’t taken more action to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Arizona.


As of today, there are 108,614 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 2,038 Arizonans dying after contracting the virus. Arizona has seen a 50 percent increase in cases since June 21 and is the new national hotspot for the virus.


Ducey explained that the state’s stay-at-home order ended on May 15, after weeks of decreasing positivity rates in testing. When he lifted the order, he assured the press that Arizona "was clearly on the other side of this pandemic."

During the first couple of weeks immediately following the state’s reopening, case numbers remained stagnant. But beginning two weeks after the order was lifted, numbers began to skyrocket and there is currently widespread transmission.


On June 29, Ducey announced that schools could welcome students back to their campuses on Aug. 17. Reporters questioned the governor on whether he thinks that date should be moved back even further, or if schools should even resume in-person instruction at all.


Ducey said kids will go back to school when it's safe to do so, and the Aug. 17 deadline is an “aspirational date.”


“Our decisions are being informed by parents, teachers and superintendents,” he said. “Our children need an education, and we believe the optimum place to do is in a school. If that's not possible, we can do a lot of this virtually.”


He said over the next 10 days, the government will assess the most recent data and provide more clarity on how to move forward.


Ducey announced that restaurants across the state should limit their indoor dining capacity to less than 50 percent. He said there should be as few people inside each establishment as possible.


The governor also announced an initiative called Project Catapult which intends to dramatically increase COVID-19 testing in the state. Ducey said it is a partnership with Sonora Quest Laboratories and others in the private sector. He said there will be an “exponential increase” in testing and processing abilities, and promised that 60,000 tests would be administered per day by the end of August.


At several moments during the meeting, the governor assured reporters that his decisions regarding COVID-19 mitigation will be based on the best interest of public health, not politics.


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Now Stream This: The Loft's New Offerings

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 11:30 AM

The Loft Cinema's Virtual Cinema Series continues this week with four new offerings. There are many ways to support The Loft during their closure, and streaming movies via their website is just one of them. Here's a link to their contributions page for other ways to donate, including ordering up some of their trademark organic popcorn from Curbside Concessions.

Below is a preview of this week's offerings. For a complete list of streaming movies and instructions on how to order them, visit their site.


These are the films starting July 10:

The Tobacconist


The late Bruno Ganz, in one of his last roles, plays Sigmund Freud in this romantic drama set in Nazi occupied Vienna during WW II. Directed by Nikolaus Leytner and based upon the international bestseller by Rober Seethaler.


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Tucson Police Release Details of Another In-Custody Death

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 10:23 AM

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  • DepositPhotos


The Tucson Police Department released details yesterday about the death of 29-year-old Damien Alvarado, who died in police custody on March 22, 2020. This comes after community outrage over a different in-custody death of Carlos Adrián Ingram-López, a 27-year-old who died one month later.


On that day in March at 5:15 p.m., TPD responded to a multiple-vehicle, serious-injury collision at Campbell Avenue and Prince Road. When officers arrived at the scene, they learned that a Hispanic male suspect, later identified as Alvarado, had fled the scene of the crash on foot.


Police said two civilians, a father and son, followed Alvarado and prevented him from climbing over a cement wall until officers caught up to him.


A compilation of body camera footage shows a violent struggle between Alvarado and the first officer who arrived at the wall. At one point, the officer’s body camera was hit and malfunctioned. Police said Alvarado grabbed the officer’s magazine from his belt, and the officer struggled to retain his weapon and punched Alvarado three times with “no apparent effect.”


He was eventually held on the ground in a face-down position. As other officers arrived, footage shows Alvarado being tased but still struggling to break free. He can be heard yelling “Stop! Stop!”


As more officers arrived to help restrain him, Alvarado said “I can’t breathe” to which an officer replied “Yes you can, you’re talking.”


After he was handcuffed behind his back, his legs were restrained using two Total Appendage Restraint Procedure devices. Alvarado continued to resist, moan and yell out “I can’t breathe.”


Officers dismissed his complaints, and one said “If you can complain, you can breathe just fine.”


A spit hood was placed over Alvarado’s head before Tucson Fire Department medics arrived at the scene. Alvarado continued to resist and moan as medical responders assessed him.


According to police, TFD performed an initial medical examination and cleared him for transport to the jail.


Alvarado was silent for several minutes as the medics left the scene and officers talked to each other. Then, one officer asked “Is he still breathing?” Another responded “I dunno.”


The officers rolled him on his back and began administering CPR. They noticed he was gurgling and his eyes were rolled back. Tucson Fire was called back to the scene, and the officers removed his restraints and carried him to a gurney where medics took over CPR.


Alvarado was declared dead at 6:30 p.m. at Banner University Medical Center.


The Office of the Medical Examiner determined in Alvarado’s autopsy that the contributing causes of his death were sudden cardiac arrest due to acute methamphetamine intoxication, restraint and dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a heart condition. The manner of death was determined to be accidental.


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Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Thursday, July 9: Total Cases Now Number 112K; Death Toll Tops 2K; US Reps, Joe Biden Call for More Testing in AZ; Battle Over Schools Continues

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 9:12 AM

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The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona climbed past 102K as of Thursday, July 9, after the state reported 4,057 new cases this morning, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County had 10,835 of the state's 112,671 confirmed cases.

A total of 2,038 people have died after contracting the virus.

Maricopa County has nearly two-thirds of the state's cases, with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases hitting 73,165.

Hospitals remain under pressure. The report shows that 3,437 COVID patients were hospitalized yesterday in the state, more than triple the 1,009 hospitalized on June 1.

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A total of 1,980 people visited ERs yesterday.

A total of 861 COVID-19 patients were in ICU beds yesterday.

With the spread of COVID increasingly out of control in Arizona, the five Democrats in Arizona's congressional delegation—U.S. Reps. Raul Grijalva, Tom O'Halleran, Ann Kirkpatrick, Greg Stanton, and Ruben Gallego—have asked FEMA to bring expanded testing to Arizona as COVID-19 cases continue their uncontrolled spread.

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In a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Federal Emergency Management Agency Acting Administrator Peter Gaynor, the members of Congress requested a “massive testing blitz” in Arizona.

"Access to testing is dangerously limited and is not even close to meeting demand," the lawmakers wrote. "Arizona is in the bottom third of per capita testing nationally and has the highest positive test rate in the nation at 25 percent- which is three times the national average. Arizonans have reported waiting in line for up to 13 hours for a test and having to wait as long as three weeks to receive the results. There is no way our state will get a handle on the virus with such inadequate testing."

The lawmakers note the outbreak's spread in Arizona is accelerating and putting major pressure on the healthcare system.

"We have seen uncontained community spread and exponential growth of the virus in Arizona," they wrote. "Yesterday, our state passed the grim milestone of 100,000 positive cases. Although it took our state five months to record its first 50,000 cases, it took us approximately two weeks to record an additional 50,000 cases. Alarmingly, we are now leading the nation in new daily cases per capita and not by a close margin. This has put severe pressure on our state’s health care resources. A record number of COVID-19 patients are in the hospital, in the ICU, and on ventilators. In response to only 9 percent ICU capacity remaining and some hospitals reaching 100% capacity, the state has authorized crisis standards of care."

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden also called on the federal government to increase testing yesterday.


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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Grijalva on Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador's White House Visit: "AMLO Has Become Nothing More Than Trump’s Collaborator"

Posted By on Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 4:34 PM

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Congressman Raul Grijalva wasn't impressed with today's sit-down between President Donald Trump and Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador. Grijalva's statement:

I had high hopes for Mexico’s future when Lopez Obrador won the Mexican Presidency on a progressive platform that sought to tackle corruption, inequality, and push back on President Trump’s anti-Mexican and anti-immigrant agenda. Instead, AMLO has become nothing more than Trump’s collaborator and has willingly executed Trump’s agenda on the other side of the border. Now, he travels to Washington in the middle of a pandemic that neither Mexico or the United States has adequately addressed for a photo op with a President who came to power demonizing the Mexican people as criminals, drug dealers, and rapists. This is a slap in the face to Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and all of the migrants living just over the U.S. border on Mexican soil who are fighting for their lives as they await their chance at asylum in the United States.

White House calls for quick return to school; some Arizona parents, educators balk

Posted By on Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 4:30 PM

COURTESY TUCSON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
  • Courtesy Tucson Unified School District
PHOENIX – A White House panel of parents, teachers and school administrators said Tuesday that reopening schools this fall should be the nation’s top priority, for the wellbeing of students and parents and as a move to “stabilize our society.”

But while the panel pushed for schools reopening “quickly and beautifully in the fall,” as President Donald Trump put it, some teachers and parents in Arizona said they worry that schools here will not be able to find safe ways to do it.

“As a mom and as a teacher, I want my kids to be with their friends. I know that in-person is better for them,” said Dawn Penich-Thacker, communications director for Save Our Schools Arizona.

“But they (Arizona schools) can’t afford to keep my kids safe,” said Penich-Thacker, who worries that Arizona schools do not have the tools to make a safe return. “I see it from the inside that there are not enough resources.”

Gov. Doug Ducey last week ordered the start of in-person classes in Arizona pushed back to Aug. 17, one of several steps he took in the face of spiraling increases in the state’s COVID-19 cases. While the delay gives schools more time to prepare for schooling in the face of the coronavirus, it also means that schoolkids will have spent more than five months away from a classroom.

That’s five months of teachers and students adjusting to online education, five months of school systems scrambling for resources and five months of harried parents juggling jobs, housework and their kids’ educations.

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Anna the Zebra Gives Birth to a Baby Boy

Posted By on Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 4:00 PM

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While we were experiencing a COVID-19 Fourth of July, Anna the Grevy's Zebra was experiencing the miracle of life.

The Reid Park Zoo has announced that Anna gave birth to a male foal over the weekend. Anna, and her mate Ben, are first-time parents. They're also an endangered species.

Grevy’s zebras are the largest zebra species. 
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Every zebra has its own unique stripe pattern with no two patterns the same. As part of its survival in the wild, a newborn foal quickly learns to recognize his mother by identifying her distinctive stripe pattern, as well as through sight, sound, and smell. Grevy’s zebras are an endangered species whose population in the wild has dropped significantly over the last 40 years, with fewer than 2,000 Grevy’s zebras remaining in Africa today.

The foal joins Mapenzi the elephant calf and the meerkat pups as one of the newest members of Reid Park Zoo.

This is an exciting time for the zoo, who recently lost both Shombay the lion, and Baheem the Malayan tiger.

While the Zoo remains closed to the public due to COVID-19 precautions, Zoo fans can follow the growth and milestone moments for the zebra foal, meerkat pups, and elephant calf online as Reid Park Zoo “Brings the Zoo to You” with their Virtual Zoo at reidparkzoo.org.

This Isn't Gonna Help McSally Win Over Female Voters: US Senator Once Said Women in Military Get Pregnant To Avoid Their Responsibilities to the Country

Posted By on Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 3:44 PM


It's safe to say that appointed U.S. Sen. Martha McSally has some work to do to win over the same female voters that President Donald Trump is driving into Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden's camp.

A few weeks before McSally lost her 2018 Senate bid to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, an NBC/Marist polls showed women favored Sinema by a 13 percentage point margin. That gap isn't looking any better this year, as McSally—who was appointed the Senate by Gov. Doug Ducey to complete the late John McCain's term after her 2018 loss—faces Democrat Mark Kelly. An early June New York Times/Sienna College poll showed women favored Kelly by a staggering 22 percentage points.

Salon today surfaced a 2007 paper that McSally wrote during her time pursuing a graduate degree in which she suggested that women in the military get pregnant—or, as she put, embrace the "foolishness of a lifetime commitment (motherhood)"—as a way to shirk their military responsibilities.

Arizona Republican senator and former Air Force combat pilot Martha McSally once published an academic paper in which she said military servicewomen should be counseled against the "foolishness of entering into a lifetime commitment (motherhood)" to avoid deployment, and called for the Pentagon to repeal the policy that allows women to use pregnancy as an excuse to "skirt" their commitment.

The article, titled "Women in Combat: Is the Current Policy Obsolete?" appeared in a 2007 edition of the Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy. At the time, McSally, the first female combat pilot in U.S. history — and the first-ever losing Senate candidate to immediately receive a Senate seat — was pursuing a second graduate degree at Air War College.

She later expanded on the article in a lecture at the Duke University School of Law, which hosts a full video on its website.
The Salon article further notes:


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