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Morning Rundown: Friday, July 30

Angela Gervasi

It’s Friday, July 30. Ariz. health officials reported 1,965 new COVID-19 cases Friday morning and 24recent deaths. The state has documented more than 1,000 new cases on a daily basis for the past 12 consecutive days.

Mask Mandate Returns To City Buildings In Flagstaff

The City of Flagstaff will now require masks in city facilities as the state experiences an uptick in COVID-19 cases. The mandate went into effect Friday at 6 a.m.

The policy is returning after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors in areas with substantial and high virus transmission. Coconino County is currently exhibiting substantial transmission, according to the CDC.

Flagstaff experienced a 186% spike in cases over a recent one-week period according to Coconino County data released July 23; updated case numbers for the county are scheduled to be released later today.  Pop-up vaccination clinics are slated later this morning in Flagstaff outside the Coconino County Courthouse, and Saturday at Heritage Square.

COVID Outbreak Temporarily Shutters School District

An outbreak of COVID-19 cases prompted a temporary closure of in-person learning at the Ash Fork Unified School District. The district initially reported two positive cases among staff members before announcing a rise in infected students and staff.

Superintendent Seth Staples says the campus was closed several days this week; a phased reopening process is slated to begin next week with elementary and middle school students only.

Staples encouraged district students, staff and families to monitor symptoms and says rapid testing will be available on the campus this year for individuals with symptoms. He noted that school districts cannot mandate masks due to recent state legislation, though the superintendent recommended face coverings for students and staff.

Grand Canyon Resumes Indoor Mask Mandate

Grand Canyon National Park officials have shifted to require masks for all individuals inside federal facilities; the new mandate applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated staff and visitors. Park officials also say there are issues in vaccination progress, and that 60%  of scheduled vaccine doses had to be wasted this week at the Grand Canyon Clinic due to patients failing to attend appointments.

Waters Fill Polacca Wash On Hopi

First Mesa Consolidated Villages officials say monsoon activity led to a rise in water levels at the Polacca Wash this week, particularly Thursday evening. Rainfall in Pinon and Low Mountain prompted the water flow, according to FMCV spokesperson Louella Furcap. Two roads on Hopi remained closed as of last night.. The Hopi Emergency Relief fund sought volunteers this morning to fill more sandbags at the Hopi Tribal Housing Authority. The National Weather Service predicts a 30% chance of rain today in Pinon, and a 27% chance in Polacca.

A Flood Warning has been issued for the Moenkopi Wash near Tuba City and will remain in effect until 11 a.m.

Flash flood warnings expired Thursday for communities across northern Ariz. including Chinle, Many Farms, Prescott Valley, Cottonwood, and Kykotsmovi. Forecasters are predicting active monsoon patterns this weekend. A 77% chance of precipitation is on tap today in Flagstaff.

Credit Yavapai County Sheriff's Office

Search For Man Continues After Bannie Mine Disappearance

Yavapai County officials are seeking information related to Patrick James Higgins, a 49-year-old missing man last seen July 12. The sheriff’s office says Higgins was four-wheeling with several others in the Bannie Mine area when the vehicle stalled; prompting Higgins to allegedly walk out of the area. Higgins is a white man with brown hair and blue eyes; he’s 6 feet tall and weighs 200 pounds. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt. Sheriff’s officials encouraged those with relevant information to contact YSCO or the Prescott Police Department.

A previous version of this story stated Governor Doug Ducey had issued an executive order banning mask mandates in schools. The article has been corrected to reflect that state legislation was passed banning mask mandates in public schools. 

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