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KNAU's Morning Rundown: Friday, March 19

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Arizona Reports 7 Consecutive Days With Fewer Than 1,000 COVID-19 Cases

Arizona's Department of Health Services reported 423 new COVID-19 cases Friday morning and 46 recent deaths. It’s the seventh consecutive day ADHS has reported fewer than 1,000 daily cases. Hospitalization rates decreased between Wednesday and Thursday; ventilator usage has also declined statewide. 

A Third Of Coconino County Vaccinated, New Site Slated For Yuma

Coconino County officials say 33% of the county has received some amount of COVID-19 vaccine, according to the county’s data dashboard. Meanwhile, ADHS says new appointments will open today at 11 a.m. for state-run vaccination sites. The state released 5,000 additional appointments Thursday for the vaccine at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale and the Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

 

Gov. Doug Ducey’s office announced Thursday the state will open another mass vaccination site in Yuma, where 8,000 appointments each week will be conducted. Yuma County has experienced the highest infection rate per capita in the entire state, prompting military personnel to assist healthcare workers in the region. The site could eventually administer 4,000 shots each day, Ducey’s office says.

Day Of Prayer To Commemorate COVID-19 On Navajo Nation

A Navajo Nation Day of Prayer Event is underway this morning to commemorate more than one year of COVID-19 on the reservation. Tribal and faith leaders, along with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, will speak at the virtual event, according to the Nez-Lizer administration. Health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases Thursday and six recent deaths. President Jonathan Nez acknowledged the recent increase in cases as “concerning” and encouraged residents to limit travel. Officials say 1,228 people have died from COVID-19, after the reservation endured some of the highest per-capita infection rates in the country. As of Wednesday, 73,902 residents had been fully vaccinated, according to tribal officials.

Death Rate In Yavapai County Increasing, Medical Examiner Says

Yavapai County Medical Examiner Dr. Jeffrey Nine says the county’s death rate increased between 2019 and 2020. Examined deaths increased by about 16%, although the county’s population increased by only 11.4% in the same time frame, Nine told the County Board of Supervisors at a meeting Wednesday. He says the county’s suicide rate has risen above the current national average — particularly regarding elderly firearm suicides. 

“Our elderly suicide rate is off the charts, essentially,” Nine told the Board this week. 

Nine added that the county has continued to experience a relatively low homicide rate.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, the National Suicide Prevention hotline can be accessed in English and Spanish at 800-273-8255.

Drought Predicted For West, Arizona

National Weather Service forecasters are predicting a continued megadrought throughout the west this spring with minimal runoff and flooding, the Associated Press reported. The entirety of Arizona is experiencing some form of drought, with large parts of Coconino, Navajo, Apache and Mohave counties categorized in the more severe form of “exceptional drought” by the National Drought Mitigation Center. The "exceptional drought" category can lead to year-round fires, dying native plants, and dry bodies of water, according to the Center.

 

Audit To Further Investigate Maricopa County Ballots

Members of the Arizona senate say they’re continuing to audit Maricopa County ballots from the November 2020 election. The upcoming audit will involve a full hand count of about 2.1 million ballots, along with ballot scans and machine tests, according to the state legislature. 

“Our voters expect this audit, and it can be a big step in returning trust and confidence in our election process.” the State Senate said in a Thursday statement.

No widespread election fraud has been uncovered in the 2020 election, despite multiple Arizona-centered lawsuits, and a forensic audit conducted by two laboratories and a certified public accounting firm. The previous audit, supported by Maricopa County officials, found no issues after conducting accuracy tests, malicious software and hardware tests, and other assessments.