It's Wednesday, April 7. More than 17,000 people have officially died statewide from COVID-19 complications, according to this morning's report from the Department of Health Services. More than 2.4 million people in the state have received a vaccine, ADHS says.
Here are more of KNAU's top morning headlines:
“Firearm Freedom Act” Signed Into AZ Law
Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation yesterday that will invalidate any regulation that violates the second amendment of the U.S. constitution. House Bill 2111 discredits any federal law contradicting the Second Amendment, and has been cited as the “2nd Amendment Firearm Freedom Act."
“If the zealous gun-grabbers in Washington try to disarm citizens in the name of political posturing, we’re not going to allow it in Arizona,” said State Rep. Leo Biasucci, who introduced the law.
Gun violence prevention advocates from the group Moms Demand Action say they delivered a petition with thousands of signatures to Ducey’s office Tuesday — in an effort to stop the law from going into effect.
“Today, our state became a little less safe,” volunteer Sophia Ramirez told Moms Demand Action in a statement.
New COVID-19 Variant Confirmed On Navajo
Navajo Nation health officials say a COVID-19 variant originally documented in California has been found on the reservation. The variant was found on a test conducted in the Chinle service unit; the department of health says the person who contracted the virus has since recovered. The B.1.429 variant was first documented in the country last month and can be more transmissible, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though the CDC says studies are pending. A recently loosened curfew and mask mandate remains in effect on the reservation. A case of the U.K. variant was discovered on the Nation last week after a vaccinated individual contracted the virus; health officials say the person has recovered.
Diné Voting Rights Advocate Nominated For Congressional Medal
Advocate and non-profit founder Allie Young has been nominated for a Congressional Medal of Honor. Young, who is Diné, has advocated for COVID-19 relief, mental health resources, and voter mobilization. She launched the non-profit Protect the Sacred last year to advocate for the Navajo Nation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Young also led voters across the reservation on horseback during the 2020 election in an effort to increase voter turnout.
Police Presence On Tsaile As NPD Searches For Missing Man
Navajo Police say there will be a large presence of law enforcement officials in Tsaile today as officials continue to search for Philbert Shorty. Shorty was last seen in late January in Fort Defiance; authorities say he’s 5 feet and 7 inches and 150 pounds with black hair and black eyes. His vehicle was discovered weeks ago in Tsaile. Authorities encouraged those with information about Shorty to contact the Navajo Police Department’s Chinle District.
Vaccinations Rise, Cases Decline On Hopi
Hopi tribal officials estimated Tuesday about 50% of the reservation’s population has been vaccinated against COVID-19. An estimated 62.2% of Kykotsmovi has received a vaccine, while about 47.4% of Moenkopi has been immunized, according to data released by the tribe. Four recent cases of the virus have been reported over the last two weeks — cases and percent positivity rates have declined after a surge earlier in the year.
Vaccinations Slated For Individuals With Disabilities
Advocates are launching a COVID-19 vaccination event this weekend for individuals with disabilities along with caregivers. The Arc of Arizona, a non-profit, says first doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be administered Saturday and Sunday at the Ability360 care center in Phoenix. Gov. Doug Ducey’s office says about 3,000 doses will be administered over the coming weekend. Members of the Arc had previously criticized the state’s vaccination methods, saying the age group prioritization process left out young people with disabilities.