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Arizona Supreme Court to hear cases remotely due to outbreak

PHOENIX (AP) — The coronavirus outbreak has prompted the Arizona Supreme Court to schedule remote legal arguments in six cases with attorneys appearing through videoconferencing. The arrangement is a departure from the court’s standard practice of hearing arguments in its Phoenix courtroom or in alternative locations such as law schools. The court scheduled three arguments on April 14 and three more April 16. The justices will be in the courtroom except for a former justice and a Court of Appeals judge filling in for justices who recused themselves from at least one case. The fill-in justices will be in Tucson and participate remotely.


Arizona faces estimated $1.1B budget shortfall due to virus

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Legislature's top budget analyst says Arizona faces an estimated $1.1 billion budget shortfall in the coming year because of the massive economic hit triggered by the coronavirus outbreak. Richard Stavneak (Stav-nee-AHK) says there is so much uncertainly around state revenue that the hit could be $500 million more for the budget year that begins July 1 or $500 million less. A lot depends on how quickly the state and nation recovers from business and personal income slowdowns caused by the response to the virus. The loss equals nearly 9% of the state’s total general fund spending in the current year of $11.8 billion.


Researchers analyze genomes to track coronavirus in Arizona

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona researchers are now using supercomputers to analyze the genomes of coronavirus samples taken in Arizona. The data is allowing them to trace the outbreak in detail to understand where the virus is coming from, how its spreading through the population and how it's changing. The information can help public health officials better target their response. It also can ensure diagnostic tests and vaccines are effective as the virus mutates over time. The work is being done by a team of researchers from the Translational Genomics Research Institute, Northern Arizona University and University of Arizona.


Sheriff's Department.: Jail escape not detected for 14 hours

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities have recaptured a Pima County jail inmate whose escape wasn't detected for about 12 hours. The Sheriff's Department said 29-year-old Jose Fernandez escaped late Tuesday afternoon by breaking through steel mesh covering an exercise yard and that his escape wasn't reported until Wednesday morning. The department said an investigation is underway but that it appears inmates in the exercise yard weren't adequately monitored and that an evening headcount wasn't conducted appropriately. The department said Fernandez was recaptured Wednesday night and that he was jailed while awaiting trial on charges of aggravated assault, auto theft and vandalism.


Prescott Daily Courier to cease Saturday, Monday printings

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — The Prescott Daily Courier is cutting back on its print editions due to a lack of resources brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Prescott Newspapers, Inc. announced this week it will temporarily halt publishing of The Daily Courier on Saturdays and Mondays. Publisher Kit Atwell says the newspaper is dealing with a “drastic shortfall” thanks to a drop in advertising from local businesses, which are also struggling. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued a “stay at home” order on March 30 to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The change in publishing will take effect Saturday and next Monday until further notice.


US expels thousands to Mexico after largely halting asylum

U.S. authorities say they've sent nearly 10,000 Mexican and Central American border crossers back to Mexico under new rules designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The Trump administration has essentially shut down the nation’s asylum system by setting aside decades of immigration laws. People seeking refuge in the U.S. are whisked to the nearest border crossing and returned to Mexico without a chance to seek asylum. The Trump administration is relying on a seldom-used public health law and has offered little detail on the rules. Fewer than 100 people are now in Customs and Border Protection custody.


First cases of coronavirus confirmed in Arizona's prisons

PHOENIX (AP) — The first two cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed among the 42,000 inmates in Arizona’s prisons, but authorities have declined to say whether any corrections employees have contracted the virus.  Advocates for prisoners say the discovery of COVID-19 in the prisons is a sign of bad things to come, given that inmates with compromised health live in close quarters. The first case was confirmed in a Tucson inmate who has been hospitalized since March 27. Another inmate at a private prison in Marana also tested positive. Across Arizona, more than 2,700 coronavirus cases with 80 deaths have been reported.


NTSB report on Arizona plane crash to shape Nevada lawsuits

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — A federal investigation into a 2018 plane crash that killed all six people aboard says one of two pilots aboard the aircraft had drugs in his system and that the plane exceeded its weight limit. The single-engine plane crashed just after taking off from Scottsdale Airport in metro Phoenix to fly to the North Las Vegas Airport on April 9, 2018. A National Transportation Safety Board report said an autopsy found ecstasy and inactive cocaine metabolites in urine and blood samples from a student pilot but that no drugs were found in the other pilot. The report said the plane was over the weight limit.