Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2021 at 3:31 PM


Though not explicitly about Tucson, Doxy Lamine’s new EP features many of the elements that make our town distinct. Doxy Lamine  is a side project of local rock band Infinite Beauties, led by guitarist and singer Adam Lopez. At under 25 minutes, the new EP is clean, energetic and to-the-point — and it certainly has some points to make.

Lopez was writing and rehearsing new material while recording his last album, 2020’s Precarious Time, with Jim Waters at Waterworks here in town. While the band was ready to record the new tracks right away, the pandemic kicked everything to the side.

“It was frustrating in many ways because we couldn't even rehearse, albeit it also gave me time for making demos and preparing the details for the return to the studio — I mean every detail!” Lopez said.

Ultimately, the band was able to record the well-polished tracks from July to October 2020. Though the sessions produced eight songs, only six made the cut. “The original idea was to have an eponymous CD, but we instinctively called it ‘Small, Small Town’ based on the opening tune and the artwork done by my son Sol,” Lopez said. “The song is not so much about Tucson, but more about dating in a small town.”

Themes aside, the EP itself works as a kind of small town, with each song serving a unique role and sound: the title track kicks things off in a bluesy fashion, with Lopez lamenting personal vices over a surprisingly upbeat rhythm and some wonderful violin lines by Mariah McCammond. "You Did It," has more of an alternative rock flair with call-and-response singing between Lopez and Marta DeLeon from the Weekend Lovers, gradually forming into a close harmony; "Crisis Or Opportunity" features a classic borderlands rock sound, based around a dusty guitar line and Lopez's low and smooth vocals.

Though the EP begins with standard rock affair, it grows more political and spiritual through its runtime, with some blunt and even existential lines on the second half like “Make peace with God before you’re dead … If it happened to you, maybe you’ll know how it feels.”

This all concludes with the multi-layered, progressive final track “Spirituality Song,” which begins with a spoken word recital by Joseph Graves. The jaunty closer channels some darker themes, but never loses sight of the driving central melodies. At points, the groove even sounds like another great Tucson band, The Mission Creeps, with its chilly keyboards and vast sound.

It’s a quick, easily digestible collection of tracks that reminds you to try to get your life together, and if you can’t, you might as well dance.

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2021 at 2:49 PM

The University of Arizona—one of six designated points of COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Pima County—began administering vaccines to qualifying individuals Tuesday, according to UA President Dr. Robert Robbins.

“[Pima County] asked us to be a point of delivery to vaccinate not just our 15,000 family members that are on the faculty and staff at the UofA, but also all childcare providers, all K-12 educators and staff and all Pima Community College faculty and staff,” Robbins said. “For the whole county of Pima, we’re the education POD.”

This week, 1,000 Phase 1B.1 educators will receive vaccines at the campus, according to a press release from the university.

UA will work with the county health department this week to “continue to refine” its delivery process, Robbins said, and it expects to deliver 396 vaccines to K-12 education workers Tuesday through Thursday.

UA will administer 84 doses to university employees Wednesday and Thursday, Robbins said. On Friday, the university expects to be “up and running” under the county’s regular scheduling process for those who register through the county.

On Friday, 500 childcare workers and K-12 teachers will receive vaccines at UA, he said.

Pima County prioritizes who receives the vaccine, and eligible recipients must register through the county to make an appointment.

Qualified 1B educators can register online at: https://webcms.pima.gov/cms/One.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=690372#School.

Qualifying individuals can register Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., by calling: 520-222-0119.

The University of Arizona’s POD dates and times this week:

  • Tuesday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (132 K-12 teachers)
  • Wednesday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (132 K-12 teachers, 42 UA educators)
  • Thursday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (132 K-12 teachers, 42 UA educators)
  • Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (last scheduled appointment 2:45 p.m.) (500 Phase 1B.1 K-12 teachers and educators in Pima County)

By April 1, Robbins hopes the university will have vaccinated 60,000 childcare providers, K-12 educators, Pima County Community College employees and UA’s staff of 15,000.

“If we could get to 1,000 a day, we could get 60,000 individuals vaccinated over the next two months,” Robbins said.

UA requiring on-campus students get tested twice a week

About 3,800 UA students returned to in-person classes Wednesday during Stage 1 of the university's reentry plan.

Robbins said Stage 1 will continue through the week of Jan. 25, but it’s possible the phase of limited in-person classes could run throughout the entire semester.

“We’ve gotta see the numbers come down before we can move to Stage 2, which would be up to 50 students in a classroom.” 

In attempts to control the spread of COVID-19, on-campus dorm students will take COVID-19 tests twice a week with at least 48 hours between tests.

Students will take the new PCR saline gargle test developed by Michael Worobey, the head of UA’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology.

Those receiving the test have to swish and gargle 5 milliliters of saltwater three times, and spit the solution into a tube to be tested. At a press conference in December, Worobey said the test detects present coronavirus material and amplifies it to a traceable amount.

click to enlarge Michael Worobey, the head of the University of Arizona's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, demonstrates a new saline gargle test to test for the presence of COVID-19. - MICHAEL WOROBEY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA'S VIRTUAL PRESS CONFERENCE ON DEC. 7.
Michael Worobey at the University of Arizona's virtual press conference on Dec. 7.
Michael Worobey, the head of the University of Arizona's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, demonstrates a new saline gargle test to test for the presence of COVID-19.

Worobey said he assessed the test's effectiveness by giving potentially infected persons both saline and nasal swab tests. He found the gargle swish test pulled coronavirus material out of about 30-35% more people than the nasal swab.

“I think this is going to become the new gold standard for how to test for this virus,” Worobey said.

Robbins said the swish gargle test will allow the university to conduct 3,000 COVID-19 tests a week. With the nasal swab, they could only conduct 1,000 tests a week.

COVID-19 on campus

From Jan. 9 through 18, UA administered 11,713 COVID-19 tests and found 194 positive cases for a positivity rating of 1.7%.

As of Jan. 15, 28 students were in isolation dorm beds with 568 beds still available, according to Robbins.

Although positive tests have dropped since last semester, Reentry Task Force Director Richard Carmona called the numbers “still unacceptably high.”

While some statewide COVID-19 statistics have appeared to improve recently,  Carmona warned not to become complacent.

Carmona went over data showing the 14-day change of coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations in Arizona. Cases declined 10%, deaths increased 119% and hospitalizations increased 8%.

“There’s a lot of data still coming in, and often, the data that we see on a daily basis isn’t reflective of what’s actually happening because it takes a while to get that data tabulated and put into the system,” Carmona said. “Although it looks like we’re doing a little bit better, we have more testing, we got some control, we’ve managed to get the university open relatively safely, our students are doing well—but we’re far from where we need to be. It’s still a long journey ahead of us.

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2021 at 1:00 PM

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2021 at 9:59 AM

click to enlarge Fourth Avenue Street Fair during better days. - DANIEL MATLICK
Daniel Matlick
Fourth Avenue Street Fair during better days.

The Fourth Avenue Merchants Association has canceled the 2021 Fourth Avenue Spring Street Fair citing the high number of COVID-19 cases in Pima County and abroad.

The merchant’s association made the announcement on Tuesday morning in a news release:

Without obtaining the proper permitting, we are unable to produce the 2021 Fourth Avenue Spring Street Fair. Our City officials along with our local Health Department are the guiding forces when it comes to issuing our permits. Each City is operating under Their own guidance and regulations. These regulations and standards may differ from other cities in the State. We appreciate and support the leadership and guidance of the City of Tucson and the Pima County Health Department.

The 2021 Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair is still scheduled for Dec 10-12, according to the release.

This is the third Fourth Avenue Street Fair to be canceled due to the ongoing pandemic. 

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2021 at 9:09 AM

With more than 6,400 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 685,000 of Tuesday, Jan 19, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 975 new cases today, has seen 91,740 of the state’s 685,699 confirmed cases.

A total of 11,266 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 1,422 deaths in Pima County, according to the Jan. 19 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases statewide has dropped slightly in recent days but still remains far above the peak levels of the summer’s first wave. ADHS reported that as of Jan. 18, 4,780 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. The summer peak of 3,517 hospitalized COVID patients was set on July 13; that number hit a subsequent low of 468 on Sept. 27, or less than a tenth of the current count. 

A total of 1,839 people visited emergency rooms on Jan. 18 with COVID symptoms, down from the record high of 2,341 set on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. That number had previously peaked at 2,008 on July 7; it hit a subsequent low of 653 on Sept. 28.

A total of 1,105 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Jan. 18. The summer’s record number of patients in ICU beds was 970, set on July 13. The subsequent low was 114 on Sept. 22.

Pima County’s dire situation was laid out by Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry on Friday, Jan. 15. As of the midpoint of the month, the county had seen nearly 18,000 positive cases, putting it on track to exceed December’s record-setting total number of 29,663. 

With 329 deaths in the first 15 days of January, the county is also on pace to exceed the total number of deaths in December as well, Huckelberry told Pima County supervisors in a memo ahead of Tuesday’s board meeting, where the board will also discuss his future as county administrator.

“Clearly, there has been no substantial reduction in the COVID-19 infection rate,” Huckelberry wrote.

Huckelberry said last week saw some easing of pressure in county hospitals, with a 15 percent drop in COVID patients and a total of 633 COVID patients in local hospital beds. 

While the number of Intensive Care Unit beds in use had dropped by 6 percent, only 20 ICU beds, or 5 percent of total capacity, remained available as of Friday. A total of 216 COVID patients were in ICU beds (accounting for 60 percent of ICU beds). Nearly two-thirds of ventilators in use—63 percent—were by COVID patients.

Arizona continues to have the highest coronavirus transmission rate in the nation with an average of 117 cases per 100,000 of the population, according to the CDC.

“Arizona’s outbreak remains appallingly bad. A bit of good fortune (or preferably policy action) is needed to gain additional time to vaccinate Arizona’s most vulnerable citizens,” according to the most recent report by Dr. Joe Gerald, a UA professor who creates weekly coronavirus epidemiology reports based on Arizona Department of Health Services data. “Daily cases and fatalities could double, or perhaps quadruple, before declining under the weight of natural and/or vaccine-induced immunity later this winter.”

During the week ending Jan. 10, 8,274 Pima County residents were diagnosed with COVID-19, creating a new record for weekly case counts in the county and representing an 11% increase from the week prior, according to Gerald's report.

According to Gerald, throughout Arizona, the week ending Jan. 10 saw 60,283 new COVID-19 cases, a 7% increase from the week prior.

While the week of Dec. 20 still remains the state’s deadliest with 759 COVID-19 deaths, Gerald estimates this record will be broken in coming weeks as coronavirus deaths are on pace to exceed 700 a week “for the foreseeable future.”

Gerald reported that coronavirus test positivity declined 2% the week ending Jan. 10 from the previous week throughout Arizona.

“This indicates that viral transmission is now growing slower than testing capacity is increasing. Nevertheless, testing capacity remains woefully inadequate to the scale of the problem,” he wrote.

Pima County rolling out vaccinations

Since Pima County’s COVID-19 vaccine registration site went live Thursday morning, nearly 80,000 qualifying residents have registered. However, Pima County doesn’t have enough vaccines to administer to all registrants, said Pima County Communications Director Mark Evans.

Although demand for vaccines is outstripping the supply, Evans said more appointments will be added as the county receives its weekly vaccine allotment from the state.

Those in the priority 1B group—which includes individuals over 75, educators and protective service workers—can register at any time, but receiving an appointment depends on vaccine ability.

“People are able to register every single day. But it’s important to note that everybody who has registered, it doesn't mean they’re going to get an appointment that day, it’s going to take some time,” Evans said. “It’s essentially creating a line to get in.”

Those who qualify in the priority 1B group can register for a vaccine at www.pima.gov/covid19vaccineregistration or by calling 520-222-0119.

The county sends prioritized batches of registrations to their relative vaccine sites, but TMC and Banner’s registration sites work differently. TMC uploads registrations to its MyChart system, which notifies the registrant when an appointment is available, Evans said.

Banner registrants will make an appointment directly on the website if one is available based on the registrant’s priority group.

“The only way with Banner is you just have to keep going back in and checking strategically to see if there are appointments,” Evans said. “We are making sure there are appointments available every day because the system’s modulated because it’s based on priority systems. So it’s not like it’s first come, first serve.”

The registrations are filtered through Pima County, which grants vaccine appointments based on priority. The Banner and Tucson Medical Center sites will prioritize those 85 and older first, according to Evans.

The county is allowing school districts to prioritize which staff members will receive the vaccine first, while law enforcement agencies and the courts also choose which workers among their agencies will be prioritized.

Find more details here.

Get tested: Pima County has free COVID testing

Pima County offers a number of testing centers around town. 

You’ll have a nasal swab test at the Kino Event Center (2805 E. Ajo Way) the Udall Center (7200 E. Tanque Verde Road) and downtown (88 E. Broadway). 

The center at the northside Ellie Towne Flowing Wells Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road, involves a saliva test designed by ASU. 

In addition, the Pima County Health Department, Pima Community College and Arizona State University have partnered to create new drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites at three Pima Community College locations. At the drive-thru sites, COVID-19 testing will be offered through spit samples instead of nasal canal swabs. Each site will conduct testing from 9 a.m. to noon, and registration is required in advance. Only patients 5 years or older can be tested. 

Schedule an appointment at these or other pop-up sites at pima.gov/covid19testing

The University of Arizona’s antibody testing has been opened to all Arizonans as the state attempts to get a handle on how many people have been exposed to COVID-19 but were asymptomatic or otherwise did not get a test while they were ill. To sign up for testing, visit https://covid19antibodytesting.arizona.edu/home.

—with additional reporting from Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner, Nicole Ludden and Mike Truelsen

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2021 at 7:05 AM

PHOENIX – May Tiwamangkala remembers mornings at Perryville Prison west of Phoenix, when the Wildland Fire Crew members began chanting and stomping their feet on concrete to let the rest of the prison know it was 5 a.m.

On their training runs, she recalls, one veteran on the all-women crew would shout, “Who are we?”

“Fire crew!”

Her next shout: “Be phenomenal!”

“Or be forgotten!”

The Perryville crew is one of 12 17-person crews of incarcerated firefighters in Arizona, and the only crew of all women. But once crew members leave prison, they often face difficulty getting hired as firefighters, typically because they lack documentation of their work or can’t get the required certification as emergency medical technicians because of their criminal records.



Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2021 at 1:00 AM

Monday, January 18, 2021

Posted By on Mon, Jan 18, 2021 at 3:30 PM

WASHINGTON – About 180 white tombstones – each belonging to a child who died while attending the Carlisle Indian Industrial School – stand row-by-row in the dewy grass of central Pennsylvania, bearing the names of those who died while being forced to learn the white man’s way.

From 1,500 to 1,800 Native American students from Oklahoma attended the Carlisle school, said Jim Gerenscer, co-director of the Carlisle Indian School Project, a database that provides information about the school and the students who attended. But some never made it back home, dying from unknown causes at Carlisle.

The purpose of school, as well as others across the nation, was to remove Native Americans from their cultures and lifestyles and assimilate them into the white man’s world.

Carlisle, which opened in 1879 and operated until 1918, was among the first and best-known boarding schools for Native children, and its operational model set the standard for most that came after.

For many tribes in Oklahoma, the horrors of the Carlisle model were experienced closer to home.

Riverside Indian School, outside Anadarko, is the nation’s oldest federally operated American Indian boarding school. Organized by Quaker missionaries in 1871, it was known as the Wichita-Caddo School until 1878.

Joe and Ethil Wheeler were educated there. Anthony Galindo, the grandson they raised, recalls hearing their stories about conditions at the school.



Posted By on Mon, Jan 18, 2021 at 3:27 PM

Halfway through January, Pima County is already on track to exceed the total COVID-19 case and death count of December.

With 17,932 cases reported Jan. 1-15, the first month of 2021 will likely exceed the 29,663 coronavirus cases reported in December, according to a memo from County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

The first two weeks of January also tallied 329 deaths—also on pace to exceed December’s total, the memo said.

Arizona continues to have the highest coronavirus transmission rate in the nation with an average of 117 cases per 100,000 of the population, according to the CDC.

“Arizona’s outbreak remains appallingly bad. A bit of good fortune (or preferably policy action) is needed to gain additional time to vaccinate Arizona’s most vulnerable citizens,” according to the most recent report by Dr. Joe Gerald, a UA professor who creates weekly coronavirus epidemiology reports based on Arizona Department of Health Services data. “Daily cases and fatalities could double, or perhaps quadruple, before declining under the weight of natural and/or vaccine-induced immunity later this winter.”

During the week ending Jan. 10, 8,274 Pima County residents were diagnosed with COVID-19, creating a new record for weekly case counts in the county and representing an 11% increase from the week prior, according to Gerald's report.

Newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases in Pima County from March 1 through Jan. 10 - DR. JOE GERALD'S COVID-19 DISEASE OUTBREAK OUTLOOK ARIZONA STATE AND PIMA COUNTY REPORT JAN. 15
Dr. Joe Gerald's Covid-19 Disease Outbreak Outlook Arizona State and Pima County report Jan. 15
Newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases in Pima County from March 1 through Jan. 10

According to Gerald, throughout Arizona, the week ending Jan. 10 saw 60,283 new COVID-19 cases, a 7% increase from the week prior.

While the week of Dec. 20 still remains the state’s deadliest with 759 COVID-19 deaths, Gerald estimates this record will be broken in coming weeks as coronavirus deaths are on pace to exceed 700 a week “for the foreseeable future.”

Gerald reported that coronavirus test positivity declined 2% the week ending Jan. 10 from the previous week throughout Arizona.

“This indicates that viral transmission is now growing slower than testing capacity is increasing. Nevertheless, testing capacity remains woefully inadequate to the scale of the problem,” he wrote.

As of Jan. 15, 56% of the state’s general ward hospital beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients, a 1% decrease from the week prior.

Posted By on Mon, Jan 18, 2021 at 2:41 PM

Qui tacet consentit. The ancient legal adage expresses a deep wisdom about the nature of law and politics: silence is consent. Remaining silent in response to an assertion is to accept that assertion

This is why the absurd lie that the Presidential election was stolen has become so powerfully established among Republican voters. Half of Republicans polled indicate they believe the election was stolen. Many on the right sincerely believe the big lie and are actively supporting political terror and sedition out of ignorance and socially-biased reasoning. That is terrible, but eminently fixable if Republican act responsibly.

The lie that this presidential election was stolen is the foundation and justification for the political violence we are experiencing. More violence and more death will result unless this lie is stopped.

Republicans daily and hypocritically call for unity, decry division, and deplore the violence, but refuse to denounce and debunk the lie that is causing all of it.

Merely deploring the violence inspired by the lie is not enough; the lie must be stopped and denounced. Yet many Republicans, including leaders here in Arizona such as Governor Ducey, House Speaker Rusty Bowers, and Senate President Karen Fann, have remained quiet about the lies. Republicans' failure to denounce the lies publicly, explicitly, and loudly are aiding and abetting the very terrorist violence they hypocritically deplore.

The Republicans of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors have been the most public and unequivocal in denouncing and debunking the lies. They deserve our praise and gratitude. Though Speaker Bowers did refuse to call a special session for the illegal purpose of overturning Arizona's Electoral Votes for President, he doesn't get too much credit for quietly refusing to break the law and disenfranchise Arizona's electorate.

Many Republican leaders who know the election lie to be baseless have remained silent out of fear, and it must end.

Some Republicans are afraid to stand up to the lies because they fear violence from their own base. Not an irrational fear given the death threats and vitriol directed at those who do speak up for truth, but all the more reason they must do it.

Republicans rightly venerate and praise those who put their lives on the line to preserve our freedom in our military. But now those same Republican civilians have a chance to stand on the front line of freedom and hazard all for the preservation of our democracy and security.

Republican leaders have the chance to be warriors for truth. All they need do is denounce the lie that is tearing apart their own party and undermining American democracy in a fundamentally more dangerous and permanent way that any foreign adversary ever could. Yet too many refuse to do so.

British actor David Niven, who volunteered for active combat duty in the darkest days of World War II, related an encounter with Churchill. Churchill said to him, "Young man, you did a fine thing to give up your film career to fight for your country. Mark you, had you not done so − it would have been despicable."

It will be a brave and honorable thing worthy of praise for influential Republicans to stand up for truth in the face of the very lies and misinformation which have become a source of identity and unity in their own faction, and not to do so is despicable cowardice and craven self-interest.

Too many Republican Party's leaders know that the stolen election allegation is a lie, and yet remain silent. That is contemptible and must stop.

But how to describe those Republican leaders who are actively promoting and repeating and defending that lie? They are engaged in and inciting sedition against our democracy. That is beyond contemptible. The punishment should be ostracism and civic death. They should be driven from any position of public trust or influence.

We at BlogForArizona.net live and work in Arizona, and our audience is primarily Arizonans, so we have a responsibility to shine the light of truth on Arizona's politics. Some Republican leaders here in Arizona are exploiting and promoting the lie to inspire more violence and intimidate their rivals and opponents. They are promoting the lie to enhance their own power and undermine our democratic tradition.

Let's name the names (not an exhaustive list, just the worst, most blatant offenders, their names below are linked to clear evidence of their promotion of the election lies):

These leaders are seditionists and traitors. They are enemies of democracy, and thus of all Americans. They are all directly telling the lies about the election that are stoking and justifying violence.

Their careers in any political leadership capacity must be ended by Arizonans who value democracy. Arizona's responsible political leaders must not only denounce the election lie, but punish and denounce those who promote it. Governor Ducey, Speaker Bowers, and President Fann must affirmatively act to debunk the lie and discipline those who are amplifying and exploiting the lie.

But the press must also actually press every Republican in public life to denounce and repudiate the election lie. No policy or event matters more right now.

No Republican leader should be allowed to appear in public or address the public without a demand by the press to first denounce the election lie, as a prerequisite. Failure to do so should be the only story about that appearance, address, or event that matters. The press cannot allow it to become the new normal in our democracy to go about politics as usual while abetting those lies that are killing democracy, and killing Americans.

There must now be a clear division in our politics, not between left and right, but between those who stand for truth and those who use lies to maintain their power, mislead our citizens, and destroy the foundations of our Republic.

We need to know clearly who stands with the lie, so they may be destroyed before they destroy democracy. Democrats, and all American patriots, want unity and peace, but we will only stand together with those who stand beside the truth.