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Morning Rundown: Wednesday, July 21


It’s Wednesday, July 21. The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for a majority of Ariz. counties, including Coconino County at the Grand Canyon and southward, along with parts of Navajo, Apache, Gila and Yavapai counties. The watch applies to communities including Winslow, Prescott, and Dilkon beginning Thursday morning and ending Saturday evening.


AZ Communities Follow Nationwide Trend Of Rising COVID-19 Cases

Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Chair Craig Brown says he’s “concerned” at a recent rise in COVID-19 cases. Brown says as of Tuesday, 44 people were hospitalized for the virus at the Verde Valley and Yavapai Regional medical centers.


“I do not want to restrict access to [c]ounty buildings or be the cause of fewer events downtown but if we continue to see the Covid numbers increase, like we have over the past few weeks, I will take the necessary actions to protect our citizens,” Brown wrote in a letter this week.


Arizona’s Department of Health Services estimates 44.4% of the county has received a COVID-19 vaccine, though administration rates have generally declined since April.


Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Meanwhile, the Navajo Department of Health has confirmed 15 cases of the COVID-19 delta variant have been confirmed according to tribal data. The Tsehootsooi Medical Center will hold mobile health clinics to distribute doses of the COVID-19 vaccine today in Ganado, and tomorrow in Oak Springs. Neighboring Hopi tribal health officials are also reporting a bump in general COVID-19 infections, with 12 cases recorded within a two-week period.


Water Generating Machine Comes To Navajo Nation

An Israel-based engineering company known for extracting water from air has installed a new water generating machine at a Diné-owned business in Hard Rock. WaterGen estimates its machines produce more than 200 gallons of potable water each day — exact figures depend on local climate conditions. 


Germaine Simonson, owner of the Rocky Ridge Gas & Market, worked with the company to install the machines, along with Tó Nizhóní Ání and other organizers. The non-profit Dig Deep estimates about 30% of households on the Navajo Nation still lack access to running water.


Flood Update For Flagstaff

Potential flash flooding remains in the forecast as Flagstaff continues to recover from last week’s monsoon activity and gushing stormwaters. Coconino County officials say they’re experiencing a backlog in conducting site assessments for flood mitigation strategies. More than 100 private residences have been examined so far for damage. The city estimates flooding caused $2.9 million in damages to public infrastructure, along with $1.13 million in damages to private property. Dust rose from Sunnyside roads on Tuesday in the floods’ aftermath; the county is asking people to avoid visiting neighborhoods near the Museum Fire Burn Scar to prevent further dust spread as repair efforts continue.


Grand Canyon Confirms Second Hiker Fatality Within 1 Week

Grand Canyon National Park officials say a 56-year-old man died Monday while hiking the Bright Angel Trail after returning from Plateau Point. The National Park Service says an investigation is forthcoming with the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s office. It comes after a 44-year old Louisiana man died last Wednesday on a multi-day excursion to the Phantom Ranch. A 29-year-old Michigan woman also died last week amid flash flooding on the Colorado River. A high of 109º is forecast at the Phantom Ranch today, while a flash flood watch begins tomorrow morning for swaths of Coconino County — including the Grand Canyon.


Credit Angela Gervasi

500% Rise In Fatal Collisions For Flagstaff

The Flagstaff Police Department has documented five fatal collisions in 2021, according to its recently released June report. It represents a 500% increase from zero fatal collisions in 2020. The rise in fatal collisions comes as city council and community members discuss changes to Flagstaff infrastructure, including safer travel options for pedestrians and cyclists.  The city also reports a 41% increase in collisions that resulted in injury.

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