Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Posted By on Wed, Apr 14, 2021 at 8:40 AM

With 419 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases passed 851,000 as of Wednesday, April 14, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services

Pima County, which reported 81 new cases today, has seen 113,903 of the state’s 851,265 confirmed cases.

With 4 new deaths reported this morning, a total of 17,109 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 2,372 deaths in Pima County, according to the April 14 report.

A total of 531 coronavirus patients were in the hospital as of April 13. That’s roughly 22.5% of the number hospitalized at the peak of the winter surge, which reached 5,082 on Jan. 12. The summer peak was 3,517, which was set on July 13, 2020. The subsequent lowest number of hospitalized COVID patients was 468, set on Sept. 27, 2020.

A total of 984 people visited emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on April 13. That number represents 42% of the record high of 2,341 set on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. That number had peaked during the summer wave at 2,008 on July 7, 2020; it hit a subsequent low of 653 on Sept. 28, 2020.

A total of 150 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on April 13, which roughly 12.5% of the record 1,183 ICU patients set on Jan. 11. The summer’s record number of patients in ICU beds was 970, set on July 13, 2020. The subsequent low was 114 on Sept. 22, 2020.

County halts use of J&J vaccine

Pima County Health Department is temporarily pausing the distribution of Johnson & Johnson vaccine on the guidance and recommendation from the CDC and Arizona Department of Health Services on Tuesday.



Posted By on Wed, Apr 14, 2021 at 6:56 AM

PHOENIX – NASA has chosen the University of Arizona to lead a space telescope mission meant to better understand how galaxies and stars form. The space agency awarded $20 million to the Aspera mission, which will allow the Arizona researchers to develop a telescope about the size of a minifridge for the expected launch in 2024.

Aspera’s principal investigator will be Carlos Vargas, a postdoctoral research associate at the university’s Steward Observatory and one of the youngest people to hold the title on a NASA mission.

“I always wanted to be in space, working in space. At the very least study space,” said Vargas, 30. “So this kind of was a perfect niche for me to fall into with astronomy.

“Hearing the good news (about Aspera) was one of the craziest days of my life.”

Aspera is one of NASA’s four Astrophysics Pioneers missions, which is a new endeavor to conduct astrophysics science at a small scale and for less cost.

The ultraviolet-detecting telescope will allow researchers to observe galaxy processes they can’t see now. By mapping the hot gases that surround nearby galaxies, researchers can determine how galaxies evolve and interact over time, and how they fuel star formation. Mapping the gas allows astronomers to understand exactly how and why stars form in the later stage of a galaxy’s lifetime.

“As telescopes have become more sensitive and have allowed us to discover more exotic types of gases, we now realize there is tons of stuff in between galaxies that connects them,” Vargas said in a press release. “Galaxies are undergoing this beautiful dance in which inflowing and outflowing gases balance each other.”

The telescope, also called the payload, is joined with a larger spacecraft and solar panels and will be launched into orbit about 465 miles above Earth in 2024. Data transmitters and computers will control much of the operations of the flight, but the payload will be built completely at Arizona. The team is seeking a private company to build the spacecraft and has been working closely with Blue Canyon Technologies, but no official decision has been made yet.



Posted By on Wed, Apr 14, 2021 at 1:00 AM

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 4:15 PM

I know many of you are aching to get back to the theaters and see a movie on the big screen. You have some options at the moment.

Don't allow the movie below to be an option you choose...this film will kill brain cells.

FILM REVIEW: VOYAGERS


Some kids get put on a spaceship where they will grow up with their ability to sense pleasure dulled by a blue liquid drug that looks like Nyquil. This is supposed to keep them from going crazy with desire on a long space haul to colonize another planet. The trip to another world will take 86 years, so their grandchildren will actually be the populators of the new world.

So, at some point, one of the kids figures out that the Nyquil shit is making them dull as fuck, and they decide not to drink it anymore. Chaos ensues as the teenagers feel each other’s dicks and stuff for the first time, and the whole expedition is put in jeopardy.

So, my question is this: Why the hell would you spend trillions of dollars on a spaceship, meticulously plan a civilization-saving expedition, and not be totally sure that the kids don’t say “Ah, screw it, let’s not drink this stuff!” You couldn’t come up with some way to 100% ensure that the crew would be drugged at all times. Your entire endeavor just rests on the shoulders of some twit kids who will most assuredly rebel and go Lord of the Flies on y’all. That’s a lot of money you’ve thrown at a mission where you are hoping kids never figure out they are being abused and used.

Therein lies the main problem with writer-director Neil Burger’s film, Voyagers, that main problem being that the entire premise is ridiculous, useless and inane. The kids predictably deciding not to drink the Nyquil happens real early, and the silliness of that premise infects the entire remaining running time.

And, yes, this is a thinly veiled, unofficial, sci-fi remake of Lord of the Flies. Instead of Jack, the villain is named Zac (The names rhyme!). Instead of the fake Beast, you have an “alien.” You have the one nice kid trying to lead while the bad kid wants to control the food and go primal. There’s no writing credit for William Golding, who wrote the original Flies. He’s dead, but if he were alive, he’d be all like “Hey assholes…pay me!”

Johnny Depp’s daughter is in this, along with one of the kids from The Tree of Life, and Colin Farrell looking wholly embarrassed. That’s all you need to know about the casting.

The art direction is unimaginative, the dialogue is unintentionally hilarious and, as mentioned before, this is one of the stupidest movies ever made. Voyagers is an early contender for the year’s worst. Worst…Nyquil…commercial…ever.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 1:00 PM

Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 12:40 PM

click to enlarge MUFID MAJNUN ON UNSPLASH
Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Pima County Health Department is temporarily pausing the distribution of Johnson & Johnson vaccine on the guidance and recommendation from the CDC and Arizona Department of Health Services on Tuesday.

In a CDC statement, officials with the CDC and FDA said they are reviewing six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. According to the CDC, all six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. More than 6.8 million doses of the Janssen vaccine have been administered in the U.S. as of Tuesday.

Pima County has distributed 24,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, primarily at the mobile clinics and said they have received “no reports of adverse reactions” in a statement Tuesday.

“Vaccines available today are safe and effective,” said Pima County Health Department Director, Dr. Theresa Cullen. “And although out of an abundance of caution we have paused the use of J&J, we urge unvaccinated to continue to keep getting vaccinated.”

There is a 1 in a million estimated risk of a blood clot from the Janssen vaccine, but there is a 1 in 100 overall risk of dying if you get COVID-19, said Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, associate professor of immunobiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.



Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 12:01 PM

click to enlarge Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus bows his head during a moment of silence during a vigil for George Floyd. - FILE PHOTO BY AUSTIN COUNTS
File photo by Austin Counts
Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus bows his head during a moment of silence during a vigil for George Floyd.

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus is President Joe Biden’s pick to oversee Customs and Border Protection in President Joe Biden’s administration.

“I am, of course, very honored to be nominated by the President to lead Customs and Border Protection,” Magnus said. “I look forward to speaking with senators and hearing their thoughts and concerns.”

City officials said Magnus is an ideal choice because of his progressive efforts to promote community policing and his recent work managing the police force in Tucson, a city close to the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Chief Magnus has always understood the importance of distinguishing the role of local law enforcement from federal immigration enforcement and how critical this is to protecting community trust,” said Tucson Mayor Regina Romero in a statement on Monday. “He has gained valuable experience serving as police chief of a major city here in the borderlands.”

Tucson City Council member Karin Uhlich, who was on the council when Magnus was appointed, said he has implemented “key policing measures and focused on alternative methods in a diverse community with a long history of its close relationship with the U.S.-Mexico border.”

After SB 1070, the Mayor and council directed a series of amendments to TPD's General Orders to protect victims and witnesses of crimes from arbitrary immigration status inquiries, prohibit stops and detentions based on "suspicions" of unlawful status, which Magnus implemented, said Romero.

She also noted his efforts in streamlining TDP’s U-visa process, a program that grants legal status to victims willing to help police and prosecutors investigate and prosecute a qualifying crime, and the creation of a new refugee liaison program.

In a 2017 op-ed piece in the Times, Magnus criticized President Trump's immigration policies.

“The harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric and Mr. Sessions’s reckless policies ignore a basic reality known by most good cops and prosecutors,” he wrote. “If people are afraid of the police, if they fear they may become separated from their families or harshly interrogated based on their immigration status, they won’t report crimes or come forward as witnesses.”



Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 10:39 AM

click to enlarge JENNA MILLER/ CRONKITE NEWS
Jenna Miller/ Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The White House began its pitch Monday for President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal by spelling out construction needs in all 50 states, including Arizona which got a grade of C on a recent infrastructure report card.

Biden unveiled his American Jobs Plan on March 31, to fund everything from roads and ports to veterans services and broadband.

“We need to build the infrastructure of today, not repair the one of yesterday,” said Biden, who met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers Monday to discuss the proposal.

“The plan I propose is going to create millions of jobs, rebuild America, protect our supply chains, and revitalize American manufacturing,” he said during a meeting with computer chip manufacturers. “And it’s going to make America research and development a great engine again.”

But the very scope of the plan has drawn criticism from Republicans in Congress like Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Fountain Hills, who said in a letter to the White House last week that the infrastructure proposal ignores the nation’s “most critical transportation needs” and is “dominated by costly distractions.”

“You commit our nation to spending on initiatives completely unrelated to fixing the infrastructure Americans across the country rely upon every day,” Biggs’ letter said. “We should not be using an infrastructure bill to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on small business support, community investment, rural partnerships, and childcare facilities, among other measures.”

But Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg defended the plan, saying during a call with reporters Monday that it is “about making sure that America is No.1 and is leading the way in a highly competitive future.”



Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 10:30 AM

Amphitheater Unified School District high schools will host outdoor graduation ceremonies, district officials announced last week.

The three high schools have also consulted with the Pima County Health Department to decide the best health practices to hold these events.

Graduating seniors at all three high schools - Canyon del Oro, Ironwood Ridge, and Amphi - will receive four guest tickets. All attendees must wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines. A livestream option will also be available for all who cannot or do not wish to attend.

Amphi Communications Director Michelle Valenzuela said students would inform the school if they do not wish to participate, but they are not keeping track at the district level.

In an announcement to students and families, Amphitheater High School Principal A.J. Malis asked for patience as information changes and schedules are determined. The schools are mandating students attend the graduation rehearsal ceremonies to determine the distancing and seating of every student.

At a graduation parent meeting on Wednesday, Ironwood Ridge Principal Matt Munger emphasized the importance of attending the rehearsal.

“If they do not, unfortunately, attend the rehearsal, that will preclude them from participating in the commencement ceremony,” Munger said.

Amphitheater District high schools will also offer students the opportunity to participate in Project Grad. Normally a surprise event for students after graduation, Project Grad will now look a little different with schools using outdoor space to plan a socially distanced celebration after the graduation ceremonies.



Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge In conversation - CARL HANNI
Carl Hanni
In conversation