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‘Cartels are scrambling’: Virus snarls global drug trade

NEW YORK (AP) — Coronavirus is dealing a gut punch to the illegal drug trade, paralyzing economies and severing supply chains in China that traffickers rely on for the chemicals to make such drugs as methamphetamine and fentanyl. One of the main suppliers is in Wuhan, the epicenter of the global outbreak. Associated Press interviews with law enforcement officials found Mexican and Colombian cartels are still plying their trade as evidenced by recent seizures but lockdowns that have turned cities into ghost towns are disrupting everything from production to transport to sales. And prices for drugs in short supply have soared to gouging levels.


Protesters of Arizona stay-at-home orders to hold rally

PHOENIX (AP) — Protesters who want restrictions in Arizona stemming from the coronavirus pandemic to end are heading to the statehouse. A Patriots’ Day Rally organized by opponents of the state's business closures is scheduled for noon Monday at Wesley Bolin Memorial Park in Phoenix. It's not immediately clear how many people are expected to show up. The demonstration echoes several others around the nation outside state Capitols and governors’ mansions. In states like Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia, small-government groups and supporters of right-wing causes have united behind a deep suspicion of efforts to shut down daily life to slow the spread of COVID-19.


Navajo Nation Council to hold spring session as scheduled

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer have vetoed a resolution that sought to cancel the tribal council’s session less than three days before the scheduled start. The Navajo Nation Council is required to hold four regular sessions each year in the months of January, April, July and October. The spring session is scheduled to begin Monday morning. Although the resolution passed by the council cites concerns over the possible spread of coronavirus among Navajo Nation employees and officials, Nez and Lizer said the Council and its committees have continued to hold regular and special meetings throughout the pandemic. They say with proper protective equipment for staff and the use of teleconferencing, the session can proceed as scheduled.


Arizona campaign took in-person signatures after virus alert

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona congressional campaign received hundreds of in-person voter signatures after the candidate said close, personal activities would end because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Arizona Republic reported Hiral Tipirneni’s congressional campaign confirmed it received signatures collected in March by petition gatherers working for companies paid by the campaign. An official says the physician’s campaign made clear by March 14 that in-person activities had to stop in the Scottsdale-based district. The director of a company that collected signatures on behalf of Tipirneni and other candidates says her campaign did not ask them to stop gathering signatures before primary day.


Open, expanded hunting sought on 4 Arizona wildlife refuges

PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to expand hunting on three wildlife refuges in southern Arizona and allow hunting on a fourth for the first time. The proposed changes would open or expand hunting and fishing in 97 national wildlife refuges and nine national fish hatcheries overall and would be finalized in time for the fall 2020-2021 hunting season.  Environmentalists argue that the plan could further endanger imperiled species on fragile landscapes already at risk from climate change. The 2,765-acre Leslie Canyon refuge would be open to hunters for the first time since its establishment in 1988.  The other three Arizona refuges targeted for expanded hunting are the Buenos Aires, the Cibola on the lower Colorado River and the Cabeza Prieta.


Navajo Nation orders protective masks worn on reservation

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation says the average death of the more than 40 people who have died from coronavirus on the reservation is 66. The tribe has ordered all people on its vast reservation to wear protective masks when out in public to help fight the spread. As of Saturday, 1,197 residents of the reservation that extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have tested positive for COVID-19. The Navajo Nation has been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other Native American tribe. Tribal resident Jonathan Nez says officials would consider even more aggressive requirements to reduce the spread.


Reported Arizona death toll from coronavirus rises to 177

PHOENIX (AP) — The number of reported Arizona deaths attributed to the coronavirus has risen to at least 177, up from 169 on Friday. The state Department of Health Services reported nearly 4,720 cases as of Saturday, up from over 4,500 on Friday. For most people, COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, like pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.


Arizona cities retrenching to cope with coronavirus outbreak

Arizona cities are tightening their belts and revising previously rosy budget forecasts as the coronavirus outbreak’s financial impact takes hold in metropolitan areas and across mostly rural counties alike. Steps already being implemented or under consideration include freezing hiring, putting projects on hold and foregoing planned equipment purchases. Cities laying off or furloughing workers include two Phoenix suburbs and Page in northern Arizona. State budget analysts project significant drops in tax revenue, including sales tax collections that are a major source of funding for cities. Meanwhile, fuel taxes that help pay for transportation projects also will be reduced as Arizonans drive fewer miles.