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Morning Rundown: Monday, Aug. 2

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It’s Monday, Aug. 2.  A decline in monsoon activity is expected this week, according to the National Weather Service, though chances for heavy rain and subsequent flash flooding remain in the forecast for Friday. A 21% chance of rain is on tap today in Flagstaff, with a 50% chance in Show Low, and a 44% chance in Chinle.

NAU Student Set For Olympic Race Tuesday

Northern Arizona University student Luis Grijalva is set to compete in the 5,000-meter race tomorrow at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Grijalva will be representing Guatemala as he competes against runners hailing from Kenya, South Africa, Japan and the U.S. Grijalva says he came to the United States as a one-year-old child and is a recipient of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The athlete last week on social media discussed uncertainty in whether or not he’d be able to compete due to his DACA status and worked with immigration lawyer Jessica Smith Bobadilla to gain permission to leave the U.S. He’s now set to compete Tuesday at 8:16 p.m. Tokyo time, according to the current Olympics schedule.

All Northern AZ Counties Now In ‘High Transmission,’ CDC Says

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Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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A map of Arizona categorizing high, substantial and moderate transmission levels on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now categorizing Coconino County with a high community transmission rate for COVID-19.

County health officials marked a continued rise in weekly COVID-19 cases last Friday, documenting 140 infections within one week.  In Flagstaff, 49.9% of residents have received a vaccine, while Page displays the county’s highest rate at 70.3%. County data also shows the highest vaccination rates are among Indigenous residents.

The county also reported a 120% increase in cases for Williams, which has among the lowest vaccination rates in the county at 41.9%. Flagstaff officials last week reinstated a mask mandate within city buildings in an effort to curb community transmission.

District Closure Continues In Ash Fork

The Ash Fork Unified School District will remain closed this week during what district officials say is an ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 infections. Superintendent Seth Staples had originally expressed plans for an Aug. 2 return, though that date has been pushed back to the week of August 9. Staples says the decision to delay the return came after six teachers had to avoid coming into school buildings to prevent virus transmission.

Staples has recommended masks for those entering the building, though Ariz. legislation prohibits mask mandates in public schools.

Phoenix District Mandates Mask, FUSD 'Highly' Recommends

The Flagstaff Unified School District, meanwhile, released guidelines “highly” recommending face coverings for individuals. A mask mandate will remain in effect on public transportation, according to the district.  FUSD is hosting an online meeting tonight concerning the pandemic.

A major district in Phoenix, meanwhile, is requiring masks indoors for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. The Phoenix Union’s announcement marks a divergence from the recent Ariz. state law, though it follows CDC guidelines recommending face coverings in schools.

“We have heard from our staff, students and families that they want us to realign our mitigation practices with the guidelines and recommendations of national and local health agencies,” a statement from the district says.

Emergency Declaration Extended On Hopi

The Hopi Tribe has extended its emergency and natural disaster declaration until Aug. 7 after monsoon activity and flooding swept through parts of northern Arizona last week. In its extension announcement, the tribe cited the possibility of mudslides, electrical damage, and other public safety concerns. One death was confirmed after a car became submerged in floodwaters. Monsoon activity is set to decline in the coming days, with a 26% chance of rain Monday in Keams Canyon, and a 24% chance in Polacca.

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