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KNAU's Morning Rundown: Thursday, March 11

Snowfall Could Affect Visibility, Road Conditions

Snowfall in some Northern Arizona regions could result in difficult travel conditions from today through Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. NWS is also predicting drifting snow and reduced visibility. Snow accumulation totals are expected to fall between four and eight inches in Flagstaff, five to nine inches in Williams, and up to four inches at Grand Canyon Village, according to the latest forecast. Snow is expected to melt during the daytime, lessening total accumulation, NWS says. For more updates today, visit Lee Born’s Weather Forecast.


Navajo Nation Announces “Soft Reopening”

Navajo Nation officials say the reservation will implement a “soft reopening” amid a consistent decline in COVID-19 infections. Tribal officials Wednesday asked businesses to submit reopening plans for approval as the Nation alters policies for dining and gaming facilities. 

The new regulations will allow outdoor dining at a 25% capacity. Casinos will be permitted to open for residents of the reservation and employees only, and must submit a reopening plan before operating. A daily curfew will remain active on the reservation, and the new policy does not allow reopening options for movie theaters, gyms, museums, or youth programs. Tribal officials have reported fewer than 25 daily cases for nearly two weeks in a row. 

“This is not a full reopening as some states are doing,” President Jonathan Nez said, adding that businesses will be permitted to open at a maximum of 25% capacity with additional regulations.


Next NAU President Slated To Start In June

The Arizona Board of Regents has approved the appointment of Dr. José Luis Cruz as the 17th president of Northern Arizona University. Cruz currently serves as Vice Chancellor and Provost at the City University of New York. He’s worked for universities in California and Puerto Rico, along with the Education Trust in Washington, D.C. 

Cruz is set to begin his work at NAU in just several months — on June 14, 2021. Current President Rita Cheng’s contract had originally been slated to end in 2022. Cruz said in a statement Wednesday he was honored and excited to join the institution.

During a February address, Cruz emphasized the region’s Indigenous history and cooperation with the surrounding community.

“I believe NAU is inseparable from the community in which it resides – Flagstaff – and that we rise or fall together,” he said.


Advocates, Lawmakers Request Vaccine Eligibility For People With Disabilities

Arizona lawmakers sent a bipartisan letter to Gov. Doug Ducey Wednesday requesting COVID-19 vaccine prioritization for people with disabilities. The letter advocates for prioritization for people who participate in the Arizona Long Term Care system. Arizona had recently expanded vaccine eligibility to people 55 and older, prompting concern and outcry from advocates who say those with disabilities, along with their caregivers, should be included regardless of age. Wednesday’s proposal received support from 13 lawmakers, including Republican Rep. Brenda Barton and Democratic Rep. Cesar Chavez.

Prescott To Reimburse Local Healthcare Providers As Vaccinations Continue

Prescott’s city council voted Wednesday to reimburse local healthcare providers for the cost of COVID-19 vaccine administration, allowing providers to receive a one-time reimbursement of up to $100,000 from Prescott’s general city fund. The measure says healthcare companies must vaccinate at least 2,000 people per week on average to be considered for financial reimbursement. Pharmacies are not eligible. Yavapai County continues to vaccinate residents in the 1B category, and plans to expand eligibility to residents 55 and older — once 55% of the 65 and older demographic has been immunized.