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BORDER PATROL-IMMIGRANTS RESCUED

Border Patrol agents in Yuma rescue 3 immigrants from canal

YUMA, Ariz. (AP) — Border Patrol agents in Yuma are being credited with rescuing three immigrants from a canal adjacent to the Colorado River. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say the three immigrants from India were found to be in distress and struggling to stay afloat Monday in the Salinity Canal. Agents deployed a water rescue bag and pulled the three immigrants to safety. Border Patrol officials say the three were in good health and refused additional medical treatment. The rescued immigrants have been charged with immigration violations. Their names and ages have not been released.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ARIZONA

Federal virus rescue plan could pump $4.2B into Arizona

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The $2.2 trillion federal coronavirus aid plan is expected to send about $4.2 billion to Arizona. The state Legislature's budget analysts say that includes $2.8 billion to help the state and big cities and counties and new money for K-12 schools and public universities. The state alone is expected to get $1.55 billion to deal with the effects of the virus. The Arizona Department of Health Services added four new virus deaths to their count on Tuesday, bringing the total to 24. The state has now tallied 1,289 cases across all 15 counties.

AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-GRAND-CANYON

Calls mount to close Grand Canyon after resident gets virus

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Calls are mounting for the federal government to close Grand Canyon National Park after a resident of the iconic park tested positive for the coronavirus and has been in isolation. Members of Congress and city, county and tribal officials have urged the Interior Department to approve a request from the park to close. The Park Service has been deciding whether to shut down individual sites on a park-by-park basis, in consultation with state and local health officials. The agency said Tuesday that no decision has been made. The man who tested positive lived at a dorm within the park and worked at a lodge run by a park concessionaire.

UNEMPLOYMENT-FOOD BANKS

Unemployment grows, so has demand at Phoenix-area food banks

PHOENIX (AP) — Some food banks in the Phoenix metro area are reporting a huge increase of people seeking sustenance as unemployment claims continue to grow because of the coronavirus pandemic. St. Mary’s Food Bank served 1,250 people at its largest Phoenix facility on March 23 compared with 495 a week earlier. A spokesman says St. Mary’s has served more than 1,000 people every day since March 17. The facility had never before served 1,200 people in one day outside of the holiday season. United Food Bank reports it distributed food to an estimated 2,000 households last Friday at the Mesa Convention Center. Nearly 89,000 people applied for unemployment benefits last week compared with 3,500 a week before the health crisis.

MOHAVE COUNTY-AIRPLANE PURCHASE

New sheriff's aircraft purchase approved by Mohave County

KINGMAN, Ariz. (AP) — The Mohave County sheriff's office has upgraded its older and slower plane for a newer eight-passenger twin-engine aircraft with county approval. The Kingman Daily Miner reported that the Mohave County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the $265,000 purchase on Thursday. County officials say the plane will be paid for with funds from the department designated to fight organized crime in the United States. The 1982 Cessna will replace the smaller 1976 Cessna model that has been out of service and in need of repair. Authorities say the plane will be used for prisoner transfers, surveillance and to quickly transport SWAT teams to distant parts of the county during emergencies.

FERRY FUNDING

Alaska lawmakers approve $66.7M for ferry service funding

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Legislature has approved a $66.7 million budget appropriation that lawmakers say should keep the Alaska Marine Highway System running for the year. CoastAlaska reported legislators increased the operating budget by around $20 million over the previous year. An estimated 42% of the overall $122 million ferry budget is expected to come from ticket sales for passengers, vehicles and freight. The budget adds another $19 million for repairing the ferry Aurora and adding crew quarters to two others. Republican state Sen. Bert Stedman says the appropriation should guarantee at least one ferry is available as relief.

NAVAJO POET-WHITING AWARD

Navajo poet Jake Skeets wins Whiting Award

GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — Navajo poet Jake Skeets has been named one of the winners of this year's Whiting Award. The Gallup Independent reports the Giles Whiting Foundation recently announced Skeets as one of the 10 writers to receive the honor. Last year, he was named the winner of the 2018 Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Contest and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, one of the most honored literary prizes in America. Skeets says he writes from personal experiences and focuses on Native American issues and challenges. Skeets holds a master of fine arts in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts and teaches English at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona.

UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA-EARLY GRADUATION

University of Arizona to let med students graduate early

PHOENIX (AP) — University of Arizona medical students who want to join the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic can ask to graduate early. The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix announced it is offering eligible fourth-year students the chance to graduate before mid-May. Each student's request will have to be reviewed by a committee next week. But, students could potentially be at work in a clinical setting by mid-April. College Dean Guy Reed says these are “extraordinary times” and the school is “in admiration of our students who wish to pursue this option.” This year's graduating class is made up of around 90 students.