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Briefs | Arizona reports 702 new COVID-19 cases, another 40 deaths

The Arizona Department of Health services reported 702 new cases of the cronavirus and 40 additional deaths on Tuesday, April 20. State Health Director Dr. Cara Christ is shown. (File photo by Howard Fischer/For the Miner)

The Arizona Department of Health services reported 702 new cases of the cronavirus and 40 additional deaths on Tuesday, April 20. State Health Director Dr. Cara Christ is shown. (File photo by Howard Fischer/For the Miner)

PHOENIX - Arizona health officials have confirmed 702 new COVID-19 cases and another 40 deaths.

The latest figures released by the state Tuesday bring the total number of cases and deaths since the pandemic’s onset to 855,155 and 17,193, respectively.

Patient hospitalizations for the virus across the state continue a nearly month-long range of hovering between 500 and 600. There were 562 people hospitalized for suspected or confirmed virus cases on Monday, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. The state’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases rose slightly from 575.6 on Saturday to 602.4 on Monday.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

The state dashboard also shows more than 4.5 million vaccine doses have been administered.

Over 2.7 million Arizona residents – or 38.3% of the state’s population – have received at least one shot and over 1.9 million people are fully vaccinated.

Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday signed an executive order banning state and local agencies from requiring people carry “vaccine passports.” The Republican governor said the idea violated residents’ ability to keep medical information private.

More migrants dying since push into remote, hostile regions

PHOENIX - Migrants trekking across the Arizona borderlands have died at higher rates in the past two decades since stepped up enforcement began funneling them into remote, hostile desert and mountain regions, a sweeping new analysis concluded Monday.

The report by the University of Arizona Binational Migration Institute provides a multidiscipline look at migrant border death investigations in Arizona over 30 years. It draws on the expertise of anthropologists, geographers, other specialists and Pima County Chief Medical Examiner Greg Hess, whose office tracks the recoveries statewide.

Daniel Martinez, an institute co-director, said migrants "are perishing in some of the most treacherous and rugged terrain within southern Arizona.”

Authorities recovered remains of 209 suspected migrants in the Arizona border region in 2020, the second-highest annual number on record.

The remains of at least 3,356 border crossers were found in the Arizona border region between 1990 and 2020. They were overwhelming male, between the ages of 20-49 and from Mexico, although the share of Central Americans among the dead has increased. Most died from exposure or undetermined causes. Nearly two-thirds were eventually identified.

“This report is important because similar data is not available across the entire border,” said Robin Reineke, an assistant research social scientist at the university's Southwest Center.

Plane wreckage found in Arizona; 2 Californians aboard dead

WILLIAMS - The wreckage of a small plane was found Monday in northern Arizona and its two occupants from California were confirmed dead, authorities said.

Coconino County Sheriff’s officials said deputies received a report Sunday night of an overdue aircraft from Vista, California.

The plane took off from the Sedona airport a and was supposed to land at the Grand Canyon’s airport for a 9 a.m. Sunday appointment in the Tusayan area.

Sheriff's officials said an Arizona Department of Public Safety air rescue helicopter out of Kingman located the wreckage Monday morning in a wooded area near the Williams Airport and both occupants were confirmed dead.

Authorities identified the two as 37-year-old Timothy Michael Gill and 38-year-old Joylani Roseann Kamalu, both of Vista.

It was unclear who was flying the plane.

Sheriff’s officials said they will investigate the cause of the crash along with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Tempe police: Man arrested in fatal stabbing of girlfriend

TEMPE - A man has been arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend at a Tempe apartment complex’s clubhouse, police said Monday.

They said 23-year-old Mason Nez was booked into jail on suspicion of first-degree murder.

It was unclear Monday if Nez has a lawyer yet who can speak on his behalf about the case.

Police said Nez was found early Sunday morning covered in blood and holding the victim, identified as 23-year-old Tammy Begay.

Nez, Begay and another couple were hanging out in the clubhouse of their apartment complex Saturday night when Nez allegedly attacked his girlfriend with a pocket knife for an unknown reason, according to witnesses. The other couple ran from the clubhouse and immediately called police.

Court records show the incident was captured on surveillance camera. Police said Begay was rushed to a hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

During an interview with detectives, court records show Nez told police he could not remember how much alcohol he drank that night and he had no memory of what happened in the clubhouse.

Agency reports Navajo Nation’s first Hantavirus case of 2021

WINDOW ROCK - Health officials on Tuesday reported the Navajo Nation’s first case this year of Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease spread by infected rodent droppings.

The case was confirmed in McKinley County in northwestern New Mexico but it wasn’t known how the person contracted Hantavirus, the tribal Department of Health said.

Hantavirus typically is reported in spring and summer, often due to exposures that occur when people are near mouse droppings in homes, sheds or poorly ventilated areas.

Recommended precautions to limit the spread of Hantavirus include ventilating and cleaning areas where they might be mouse droppings, according to a department statement.

“It is essential to take appropriate precautions when entering and cleaning sheds, garages, campers, cabins, barns, and other buildings,” the statement said. “The illness is not spread from person to person.

The Navajo Nation’s reservation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

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