Morning Rundown: Tuesday, Aug. 10
It's Tuesday, Aug. 10. The Dept. of Health Services reported 2,582 COVID-19 cases statewide this morning, along with 12 related deaths. The state has documented more than 2,000 daily cases every day for the past week.
About 89% of cases in July were among unvaccinated individuals according to ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ. A similar trend is reflected locally: In Yavapai County, 92.6% of cases recorded since May, 2021 were among unvaccinated residents. Neighboring Coconino County reports 78% of cases recorded during the last week of July were among those who had not received the shot.
State Wraps Up Comment Period, Hearing For Pinyon Plain Mine
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality held a public hearing Monday night regarding a potential aquifer protection permit for the Pinyon Plain Mine, formerly known as the Canyon Mine, south of Tusayan and the Grand Canyon. Its operating company Energy Fuels describes the site as “the highest-grade uranium mine being developed in the U.S.”
Members of the public last night expressed concerns over the permit’s environmental effects, and some called for the mine to be closed altogether.
"[ADEQ] should instead transition this permit to immediate closure, remediation, mitigation, monitoring and post-closure maintenance activities,” said Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club.
The Havasupai Tribe and Sierra Club have both continued to call for the mine’s closure. A public comment period for the aquifer permit ended on Saturday.
YCSO Confirms Death Of Man At Bannie Mine; Hikers Unharmed Near Clear Creek
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office says a missing 49-year-old man was found dead over the weekend at the Bannie Mine on the southeastern edge of Prescott. Patrick Higgins had last been seen July 12; authorities say he was four-wheeling with several others when the vehicle stalled, prompting Higgins to hike out of the area in an attempt to search for help. The YCSO says three volunteers from the county’s Search and Rescue found the man’s body in a ravine on Saturday.
Two hikers, meanwhile, were rescued uninjured last week after they became stranded in Meadow Canyon near West Clear Creek, according to the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office. County officials say Search and Rescue staff managed to reach the 19-year-old men through a rope-and-harness recovery system.
Pile Burning On Moonset Pit
Fire personnel plan to burn debris today between Parks and Williams at the Moonset Pit green waste disposal site, according to a spokesperson with the Kaibab National Forest. The pit serves as a disposal site for natural area debris. Smoke activity is expected. Forest officials say recent monsoon activity will allow for effective pile burning and fuel reduction; the pit is slated to reopen for residential use by next spring.
Road Cleared After Bus Accident; Minor Injuries Reported
Police say roadways are open again after a Monday accident on State Route 69 and Mendocino Dr. in Prescott Valley. The closure was related to a vehicle accident involving a school bus according to the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority. CAFMA says no children were present on the bus at the time of the accident, while two drivers sustained minor injuries.
Monsoon Activity, Flood Risk Resume
Monsoon activity is expected to continue this week across northern Arizona; Coconino County estimates 82 private properties have sustained interior flood damage so far this season. Both county and city officials have encouraged residents to consider investments in flood insurance, in part due to a state law that bars government entities from assisting in private property repairs. A FEMA spokesperson told KNAU last week that the number of flood insurance policies purchased statewide declined over the past year, falling from 26,900 in Aug. 2020 to 26,000 in Aug. 2021.