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2 Arizona sheriffs refuse to enforce a stay-at-home order

PHOENIX (AP) — Two Arizona sheriffs are refusing to enforce Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order as the state continues to deal with the coronavirus. Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster and Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb both said they aren’t going to hand out fines, citations or arrest people who disobey the governor’s mandate that has been extended through May 15. Meanwhile, state health officials say Arizona now has 8,640 coronavirus cases. The Arizona Department of Health Services also said Sunday that there are 362 known deaths around the state from COVID-19.


Report: Arizona lagging behind in per capita health spending

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona reportedly ranks as the third-worst nationally for the amount of money it spends on public health at $10 per person. The State Health Access Data Assistance Center's analysis shows that only Missouri and Nevada spent less per capita. According to data from the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health, Arizona’s public health spending increased in 2019 to $15 per capita. A state’s investment in public health isn’t the only measure of its ability to handle an emergency such as COVID-19. But some experts tell the Arizona Republic that it shows political foresight to invest up-front in an infrastructure the supports disease prevention, crisis preparedness and aims to end the health disparities.


Virus restrictions stymie signature-gathering campaigns

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Social distancing rules and bans on mass gatherings during the coronavirus outbreak have made the crucial signature-gathering process of American electoral politics all but impossible. That has stymied a gubernatorial run in Utah, a congressional campaign in Michigan, U.S. Senate contests in Massachusetts and initiatives that were headed to fall ballots in Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, Ohio and Oregon. Campaigns and candidates are seeking relief from governors, state elections officials and sometimes the courts, with mixed results


Planning process for Arizona's next school year underway

Planning is underway for reopening Arizona’s public schools in the next school year and the state’s top education official says decisions and guidance will come soon. Schools are closed for the rest of the current school year due to the coronavirus. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman told KJZZ that some districts start their school years as early as mid-July so “the next school year is really right around the corner." Hoffman says her office aims to have a plan available for distribution by the end of May. Health officials say 348 people have died in Arizona and there have been more than 8,000 positive cases.


New Mexico takes more drastic measures against virus hotspot

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A city that is a modern-day trading post on the outskirts of the Navajo Nation was on lockdown under the watch of National Guard troops and state police to discourage nonessential travel and commerce as local coronavirus infections soar. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham invoked the state Riot Control Act as she ordered Gallup residents to stay home over the weekend except for emergencies. Roads leading in and out of town were blocked to nonessential travel and vehicles carrying more than two people. The restrictions were welcomed by local and state officials who have watched COVID-19 infections spread to nursing homes and homeless populations. Officials reported over 3,700 positive cases of COVID-19 statewide as of Saturday, with 139 deaths.


Northbound I-17 closed at New River because of brush fire

NEW RIVER, Ariz. (AP) — Northbound Interstate 17 was closed at New River north of metro Phoenix on Saturday due to a brush fire. The state Department of Transportation said northbound traffic was backed up for miles due to the brush fire east of the freeway and that drivers should avoid the area and delay travel. The department said there was no estimated time to reopen the northbound lanes but that southbound lanes were unaffected. New River is 36 miles north of downtown Phoenix.


Pressure mounts as tribes seek more time on drilling plan

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The clock is ticking but Native American leaders say they're in the midst of a health crisis and unable to weigh in on a proposal by U.S. land managers that will guide oil and gas development for years to come in an area held sacred by some Southwest tribes. The chairman of the All Pueblo Council of Governors was joined Friday by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico and others in renewing calls for the Bureau of Land Management to extend the comment period on a management plan for the area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The agency has yet to respond.


46 Arizona corrections employees test positive for virus

PHOENIX (AP) — Officials say 46 state corrections employees in Arizona have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Arizona Department of Corrections had previously declined to specify how many workers had contracted the virus. Twenty-four employees who tested positive have since recovered. The agency didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether any employees had died as a result of COVID-19. Earlier this week, corrections officials declined to say whether any inmates who tested positive for the virus had died, even though medical examiners and a lawyer said three inmates had died. Corrections officials said Friday there have been four potential COVID-19 deaths among prisoners.