KNAU's Morning Rundown: Tuesday, April 20
Ducey Rescinds Statewide Mask Mandate In Schools
Gov. Doug Ducey has retracted a mask mandate for schools in Arizona. Ducey on Monday cancelled part of an executive order issued last summer, which had required face coverings within the state’s K- 12 schools. Individual districts and charter schools will still have the authority to implement mask mandates and other COVID-19 mitigation strategies. Ducey cited Arizona’s rising vaccination rates as a reason behind the cancellation.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman criticized the move, saying it “destabilizes school communities as they end what has arguably been the most challenging year for education.”
In a statement, Hoffman also pointed out children under 16 are still not eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
The Flagstaff Unified School District says it will continue to require face coverings.
Vaccine Appointments Open Statewide As Supply And Demand Shift
Nearly 30,000 appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine remained available in state-operated sites as of Monday afternoon, according to the Department of Health Services. A spokesperson for ADHS estimated about 5,000 appointments to receive the Pfizer vaccine were still available at Northern Arizona University, where the state’s newest vaccination site opened yesterday. An estimated 38.3 % of the state’s total population has been vaccinated. The reports of availability come as some states experience a higher supply than demand for vaccines.
Oak Creek Vaccinations Slated For Wednesday
Spectrum Healthcare will hold a mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic in the Village of Oak Creek this Wednesday, according to Yavapai County officials. Some larger vaccination sites in Yavapai County will close next month, including Yavapai Regional Medical Center’s site at the Prescott Gateway Mall. County officials have reported a recent decrease in vaccine demand, though vaccination rates are rising locally — county health officials estimated 36.7% of the population had been vaccinated as of Monday.
No COVID-19 Deaths For 9th Day On Navajo Nation
Navajo Nation officials reported no recent deaths related to COVID-19 for a ninth consecutive day on the reservation, along with four new cases on Monday. Officials also identified uncontrolled spread in four New Mexico communities including Crownpoint and To'hajiilee. The Nez-Lizer reported in Monday's State of the Nation Address that more than 93,800 people have been vaccinated.
County Says 2 Dead After Plane Crash Near Williams
A spokesperson for Coconino County says two people have died after a plane crashed near the Williams Airport. The aircraft was carrying two residents of Vista, California and was reportedly heading to the Grand Canyon airport. A family member of a passenger contacted Coconino County deputies on Sunday, after noting the passengers had not returned. The plane was located after a search in the early hours of Monday morning. County officials say the crash is under investigation by multiple agencies.
Dozens Of Counselors, Social Workers To Be Hired In Some AZ Schools
Arizona Superintendent Kathy Hoffman says the state will hire 71 counselors and 69 social workers using federal funding to assist students amid the ongoing pandemic. Hoffman says $21 million will fund the plan for two years, but called on state lawmakers to establish permanent funding for the resources. The funding will apply to schools in 10 counties — including Coyote Canyon School in Mohave County and Congress Elementary School in Yavapai County. Coconino, Navajo, Apache and Gila counties are not included in the new initiative. The funds specifically apply to schools who were denied the resources in 2019 due to underfunding, according to the Department of Education.