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VIRUS OUTBREAK-ARIZONA

Arizona coronavirus cases grow slightly; total now at 12

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona has three more cases of the coronavirus, raising the state's total to 12. The additional cases reported Saturday include the first in rural Graham County where the school district for the town of Pima had already closed before test results were available on an employee who now has tested positive. Other new cases include one each in Maricopa and Pima counties. Health officials in Pima County said there was no clear link between the county's first case and the latest one.  Maricopa officials said the latest of the county's four cases involved a woman in her 30s who is isolated and recovering at home. Pinal County has five cases.

TRAIL BOULDER-HIKER INJURED

Injured hiker extracted from under boulder loosened by rain

PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix parks officials temporarily closed two popular hiking trails up Camelback Mountain on Saturday after firefighters extracted a seriously injured man from under a boulder. Fire Department said a boulder estimated to weight 300 pounds landed on the man when he grabbed it to stabilize himself while getting to the side of Echo Trail to let other hikers pass. The Parks and Recreation Department said rain had loosened rocks and boulders and that Echo Canyon and Cholla trails will be reopened once they're determined to be safe for public use. Once firefighters extracted the man, a helicopter flew him off the mountain to a hospital for treatment of extensive injuries to his lower extremities. His identity wasn't released.

AP-US-IMMIGRATION-VIRUS-OUTBREAK

US: Immigrants can seek coronavirus care without fear

PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. government says a new rule disqualifying more people from green cards if they use government benefits will not apply to immigrants who seek care for symptoms of the illness caused by coronavirus. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said late Friday that seeking treatment or preventive services won’t affect someone’s immigration status under the new public charge rule, which took effect last month. The announcement came after lawmakers and advocacy groups urged the government to suspend the rule during the coronavirus outbreak. Advocates say they have been fielding panicked calls from immigrants who are worried about the impact on their status if they seek health care.

CATHOLIC CHURCH-EL FUTURO

US Hispanic Catholics are future, but priest numbers dismal

PHOENIX (AP) — A booming Hispanic population is seen by many U.S. Roman Catholics as a key to the church's future. In large parts of the United States, recent years have been difficult for the church. Hundreds of schools and parishes have closed, and bankruptcy stemming from sexual abuse has hit hard in the Northeast. There's a different mood in the Southwest. Hispanics now account for 40% of all U.S. Catholics and a solid majority of school-age Catholics. But there are also some big challenges. Catholic researchers say Hispanics are strikingly underrepresented in Catholic schools and in the priesthood, and there's hard work ahead to try to close those gaps.

AP-US-ELECTION-2020-DEBATE

Biden, Sanders to debate against backdrop of global pandemic

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate is likely to be dominated by the mounting coronavirus crisis. Just two candidates are left in the Democratic race: former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. They'll debate in a television studio in Washington without an in-person audience. The debate was moved from Arizona because of concerns about cross-country travel. It's the first Democratic debate in two-and-a-half weeks, and the first since Biden took command of the primary race.

JODI ARIAS-PROSECUTOR

Maricopa County seeks to fire high-profile prosecutor

PHOENIX (AP) — Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel says her office is seeking to fire a homicide prosecutor who won convictions in the Jodi Arias murder case and other notorious killings. The revelation comes in a letter Adel sent to Juan Martinez after he allegedly retaliated against woman accusing him of harassment.  Martinez was accused of filing complaints against two women involved in an internal investigation in late 2017 and 2018 that found Martinez made inappropriate sexual comments to multiple female employees going back a decade. Adel said Friday Martinez intends to appeal. Arias is serving a life sentence after her first-degree murder conviction in the 2008 killing of boyfriend Travis Alexander.

BORDER SECURITY PROGRAM-COUNTY

County likes money for patrols but future costs are concern

BISBEE, Ariz. (AP) — Officials in Cochise County along the Mexico border like that a federally funded program pays for overtime to put sheriff’s deputies on the road for extra patrols but some have misgivings because local taxpayers will face higher retirement costs as a result. The Herald-Review reports that some members of the county Board of Supervisors voiced concern Tuesday about continued participation in Operation Stonegarden due to the longterm fiscal impact for the county.  Calculations factoring in a deputy's higher pay in the final years of work means higher  lifetime retirement benefits. Despite the supervisor's concerns, the board voted to approve a $650,000 federal grant for the county's current costs.

ELECTION 2020-ARIZONA

Uproar over mailing of primary ballots in Maricopa County

PHOENIX (AP) — The top election official in Arizona's most populous county took the unprecedented step of ordering ballots for next week's Democratic presidential primary mailed to voters who normally casts ballots at the polls. But the move by Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes was blocked by a judge. It also drew criticism from Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. There is no law that allows Fontes' action, but he said the ongoing health emergency requires it and there is no legal prohibition. . Meanwhile, the county was closing 78 polling places after churches, nursing homes and others said they no-longer felt comfortable welcoming voters to cast ballots, and some poll workers backed out.