Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Season's Greetings: Calexico To Drop Holiday Album on Dec. 4

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2020 at 9:54 AM

Fresh from a win as Tucson's Best Musical Act in last week's Best of Tucson®, Calexico announced  this morning that they are releasing a new album of holiday music coming out on Dec. 4.

"We had a blast making this holiday album sending tracks to friends and band members stretching from The States to Europe, Mexico and Africa as well," said Burns. "It truly is a celebration of diversity and coming together, something that’s been constant with Calexico on album and on tour. Since we can’t play live in concert at a venue near you we thought that we would help with this season’s shift and bring this celebration on album into your living room."

Listen to the first single above or on your favorite streaming services and preorder the album here.

Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Wednesday, Oct. 28: More Than 1,000 New Cases Today; Total AZ Cases Top 241K; TUSD Returning to In-Classroom Instruction in Two Weeks; Gem Show Canceled

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2020 at 9:19 AM


With 1,044 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 241,000 as of Wednesday, Oct. 28, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.


Over the last week, the state has seen, on average, more than 1,000 new cases a day

With 259 new cases reported today, Pima County had seen 27,962 of the state’s 241,116 confirmed cases.

With 14 new deaths reported yesterday, a total of 5,905 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 636 deaths in Pima County, according to the Oct. 28 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases has declined from July peaks but has ticked upward in recent weeks as the virus has begun to spread more rapidly. ADHS reported that as of Oct. 27, 871 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. That number peaked with 3,517 hospitalized COVID patients on July 13.

A total of 857 people visited emergency rooms on Oct. 27 with COVID symptoms. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7.

A total of 188 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Oct. 27. The number of COVID patients in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13.

Arizona Department of Health Director Cara Christ noted on her blog last week that cases in the state were on the increase.

Christ wrote that while Arizona has not seen as big a surge as other states, “we have recently seen a shift of COVID-19 spread in the wrong direction.”

Christ noted that the statewide positivity results from tests has climbed from 3.9 percent to 5.5 percent in recent weeks.

Christ urged Arizonans to wear masks but noted the numbers across the state still indicated “moderate” spread of the coronavirus and hospitals are not reporting a surge of patients.

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Air Trump: Cost of trips to campaign events still hard to pin down

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2020 at 7:25 AM

President Donald Trump gets off Air Force One in New Hampshire on Sunday, one of a score of campaign trips he has made on the presidential plane within the last week alone. Government watchdog groups say it is extremely difficult to find out how much of the cost of such trips are paid for the campaign and how much of the bill is footed by taxpayers. - SHEALAH CRAIGHEAD, THE WHITE HOUSE
  • Shealah Craighead, The White House
  • President Donald Trump gets off Air Force One in New Hampshire on Sunday, one of a score of campaign trips he has made on the presidential plane within the last week alone. Government watchdog groups say it is extremely difficult to find out how much of the cost of such trips are paid for the campaign and how much of the bill is footed by taxpayers.

WASHINGTON – When Air Force One touches down in Arizona for President Donald Trump’s campaign visits to Bullhead City and Goodyear on Wednesday, it will be at least the 20th campaign stop for the jet in the past eight days.

Who pays for those trips? You do. Maybe. Or maybe the Trump campaign does. Or a little bit of both. Government watchdog groups say they have not been able to get a full accounting of the expenses related to the president’s use of Air Force One, despite years of trying.

“This is just a matter of good government transparency,” said Demian Brady, director of research for the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. “We should be able to have access to how our taxpayer dollars are being spent.”

The NTUF did learn Tuesday that the latest cost of operating the president’s plane has risen to $176,393 per hour, up from $142,380 per flight hour in 2017, the last time the Air Force reported the amount. An Air Force spokesperson confirmed the higher amount in an email Tuesday.

The NTUF is not the only group clamoring to get information on the costs of the president’s trips. The conservative group Judicial Watch took the administration of then-President Barack Obama to court to try to learn the costs associated with his travel, and it has continued that practice – with limited success – with the Trump administration.

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Claytoonz: Scary Amy

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2020 at 1:00 AM


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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

TUSD Students Can Return to Classroom for Hybrid Learning on Thursday, Nov. 12

Posted By on Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 9:47 PM

TUSD students can soon return to the classroom—at least for a few hours a day. - COURTESY TUCSON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
  • Courtesy Tucson Unified School District
  • TUSD students can soon return to the classroom—at least for a few hours a day.

Tucson’s largest school district will allow students to return to in-person classes starting Nov. 12.

Tucson Unified School District’s governing board voted to return to school in a hybrid model in a 3-2 vote Tuesday night.

Board members Kristel Foster, Bruce Burke and Leila Counts voted to approve the reopening date, and members Adelita Grijalva and Rachael Sedgwick opposed.

The board voted to approve the hybrid learning model on Oct. 6 but delayed voting on when to implement it until Tuesday's special meeting.

Pima County Public Health Director Theresa Cullen discussed the county health department’s three specific guidelines for opening in a hybrid model: a two-week decline in COVID-19 cases, two weeks of percent positivity below 7 percent and hospital visits for COVID-19 illness below 10 percent. As of Oct. 22, Pima County had met all three benchmarks.

“We believe that as a county, it is okay for school districts to go to a hybrid learning model based on the current statistics,” Cullen said.

She noted the health department recommends the district take strict mitigation tactics including increased sanitation, social distancing and universal mask-wearing, as well as reporting COVID-19 cases to the health department and complying with isolation and quarantine guidelines.

The governing board unanimously approved a second motion to authorize “the Superintendent to initiate school closures…if such closures are recommended by the Pima County Health Department and deemed necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Pima County.”

TUSD’s hybrid model

The TUSD board approved a new hybrid model for returning to school in-person that involves separating students into hybrid and online-only groups.

Four days a week, in-person students learn at their physical school sites for the first half of the day and work remotely from home the rest of the day. On Wednesdays, every student attends class remotely.

Remote students work asynchronously in the mornings and attend online teacher-led instruction in the afternoon. While teachers are instructing remote students the second half of the day, students in the hybrid system work asynchronously.

Asynchronous work involves working on class projects and assignments, social-emotional learning lessons with counselors, specialized services and working on digital platforms, according to a presentation from TUSD.

TUSD also came up with a contingency plan if the percentage of students who wish to attend classes in-person is at an unsafe level. This level, which the district refers to as a “threshold,” depends on each campus, but TUSD says most are between 45-60% of students on campus.

If a threshold becomes too high, the school will have the option of splitting their in-person students into two cohorts to attend classes on different days. Cohort A would attend on Mondays and Thursdays while cohort B would attend on Tuesdays and Fridays.

XIXA Releases Second Single from Upcoming Album 'Genesis'

Posted By on Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 4:45 PM

Tucson-based psych/cumbia rockers have released the second single from their upcoming sophomore album Genesis, set to release Feb. 19, 2021. The new track, "May They Call Us Home," features the band's familiar blend of borderlands guitar and trippy production, and ventures further into the esoteric themes teased by the first single "Genesis of Gaea."

The track comes with a new music video, stuffed with a blend of desert imagery, spiritual elements, and surreal editing a la Jodorowsky's El Topo. The video was written and directed by Charlie Stout, and features XIXA traveling through the Sonoran Desert, beckoned by a monk played by Tucson musician Howe Gelb (Giant Sand).

“The song infuses the tones and landscapes of our Sonoran homeland together with the rhythm and melody that we’ve found in chicha music,” said XIXA member Gabriel Sullivan in an interview with FLOOD Magazine. “It is us bringing Spanish and English lyrics together. It is us bringing mysticism and spiritual consciousness together with the earth.”

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Healthcare Advocacy Group Blasts McSally for Supreme Court Vote

Posted By on Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 4:15 PM

The Senate voted 52-48 to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court on Monday, with Sen. Martha McSally casting a vote in favor of the judge receiving a lifetime appointment on the nation’s highest court, which will now hold a 6-3 conservative majority.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Trump administration’s lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Nov. 10, one week after the general election. Protect Our Care, a healthcare advocacy organization, says overturning the Obama-era healthcare law could cause 223,000 Arizonans to lose their coverage.

Many have expressed concerns about Republican-nominated Coney Barrett, who could cast a vote to dismantle the ACA.

After the Supreme Court confirmation, Protect Our Care hosted a virtual press conference Tuesday to discuss the implications of McSally’s vote to approve the judge.

“With just a week left to election day, the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court makes the situation even more dire. It has been literally shocking to watch the GOP, including Arizona’s Martha McSally, help rush through her nomination,” state Rep. Kelli Butler said at the conference. “With the entire Affordable Care Act set to be heard by the Supreme Court right after the election, we can expect her presence on the court is likely to be devastating to the ACA and for all its protections for your healthcare.”

Under the ACA, health insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Butler says if it were overturned, this would put nearly 2.8 million Arizonans with pre-existing conditions at risk, and that despite claims otherwise, there’s not a solid replacement plan to protect pre-existing conditions.

“Republicans like Martha McSally...have tried to basically fool you into thinking they want to protect people with pre-existing conditions,” Butler said. “It’s easy for them to say they want to protect people with pre-existing conditions, but their actions tell the real story, because there is only one set of laws that guarantees people with pre-existing conditions can get insurance coverage for the care they need, and that’s the Affordable Care Act.”

Alicia DeWitt, a Tucsonan survivor of the rare illness Cushing's Disease, shared how a lack of access to healthcare has been detrimental to her livelihood.

At 20 years old, she began developing “concerning medical symptoms,” but without health insurance, she couldn’t afford to see a specialist. Ten years later, doctors diagnosed DeWitt with a brain tumor and she had her pituitary and adrenal glands removed.

This week, doctors found a regrowth of her tumor tissue.

“I can’t help but think back on that if I had been a 20-year-old today and I had been on my parent’s insurance...I would’ve gotten an MRI, I would’ve been diagnosed with a brain tumor and I’d be living a happy and healthy life and I wouldn’t be permanently disabled from something that I shouldn’t be,” DeWitt said.

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2021 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show Canceled

Posted By on Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 3:43 PM

  • Jeff Gardner

Today, the Tucson Gem & Mineral Society announced that the 2021 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is canceled. While the overall Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase season that takes over Tucson from February to March is home to numerous showcases and exhibits, the Tucson Gem & Mineral Society's Gem and Mineral Show is the largest and the show that launched it all.

"COVID-19-related risks clearly make it impossible for TGMS to put on anything more than a shadow of our accustomed vibrant event," representatives of the Tucson Gem & Mineral Society announced in a prepared statement. "Restrictive COVID-19 travel policies mean many of our major domestic, and most of our international museum exhibitors and friends either won't or can't travel here. This effectively eliminates both our exhibits and educational programs."

However, the society has announced that they intend to use this time to plan for a "blockbuster" 2022 show.

"Most importantly, TGMS does not want to be responsible for a single COVID-19 fatality or serious illness. Our show is run by volunteers and many of us are in high-risk are many of our participants and attendees," the statement continued. "Consulting closely with the Pima County Health Department, the Mayor and City Manager’s offices and the good folks who run the [Tucson Convention Center], it is clear that applying the mandated COVID-19 protocols to reduce risk would mean drastically restricted attendance and curtailment of many of our programs."

In 2018, the total Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase brought an estimated economic impact of $120 million to the City of Tucson. 

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