From NFL to American Gladiator to firefighter, Hamilton’s Mark Tucker found his calling

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By Talia Massi
Cronkite News

CHANDLER – He never wanted to be just some average kid from Los Angeles.

Mark Tucker might be best known today as the offensive line coach for Hamilton High School. But his list of accomplishments is much longer than that.

He is a mentor, role model and protector for many, and embodies the spirit of Hamilton High. He has given much to each and every community that has been a part of his life. Continue reading “From NFL to American Gladiator to firefighter, Hamilton’s Mark Tucker found his calling”

Kelly already playing part of senator ahead of next week’s swearing-in

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By Mythili Gubbi
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – He won’t be Arizona’s next U.S. senator for another couple of days, but Sen.-elect Mark Kelly is already acting the part.

Just days after Election Day, the Democrat was on Capitol Hill for new member orientation and conversations with sitting senators from both sides of the aisle, including Republicans Mitt Romney of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, his aides said.

He met with Gov. Doug Ducey, unveiled a 13-member transition team and hosted a public briefing about the impact of COVID-19 on Arizonans and the local economy.

But there’s not a lot of time to waste: Because of unusual circumstances of the Senate election in Arizona this year, Kelly could be sworn in early next week, a full month before the rest of the Senate. Continue reading “Kelly already playing part of senator ahead of next week’s swearing-in”

‘We hold these truths to be’ A, B or C? Citizenship test gets harder

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By Chase Hunter
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The good news for prospective citizens is that they will soon have more time to take the civics test that has long been a critical part of the citizenship process.

The bad news is that, beginning next week, the test will be twice as long. And harder. And there’s no bonus for getting a passing score early. Continue reading “‘We hold these truths to be’ A, B or C? Citizenship test gets harder”

1 in 10 Maricopa County residents have likely had COVID-19, new study finds

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By Endia Fontanez
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The number of COVID-19 infections in Arizona’s most populous county probably is far higher than what official counts show, according to a survey that found 1 in 10 residents have likely had the novel coronavirus that causes the disease.

As health experts worry about a new spike in infections, a study by the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, in partnership with Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University, estimates that 10.7% of the county’s 4.49 million residents have antibodies for the virus.

That means about 470,000 people have potentially been infected in Maricopa County alone, officials said. That’s far more than the 197,000 cases officially reported, and it would surpass the statewide total of 310,000 positive cases. Continue reading “1 in 10 Maricopa County residents have likely had COVID-19, new study finds”

Appeals court upholds child pornography conviction of Tucson man

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By MacKenzie Belley
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court Wednesday upheld a Tucson man’s conviction and sentence on child pornography charges, rejecting his argument that procedural problems at trial kept him from presenting his defense.

Bryan Rusnak claimed that child pornography found on his home computer in 2014 had been downloaded by a friend without his knowledge.

But a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said prosecutors presented “a strong case that Rusnak, rather than a third party, was responsible for accessing, possessing and distributing” the pornography. Continue reading “Appeals court upholds child pornography conviction of Tucson man”

That’s awkward: Trump touts Arizona election review that won’t happen

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By Catherine Fusillo
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – When the Trump campaign announced Tuesday that the Arizona Legislature would hold a public meeting next week to review this year’s elections, there was just one problem.

Nobody told state lawmakers.

“There is no legitimacy to that claim and there are no hearings being held on that issue on Monday or any other day,” said Sen. Rebecca Rios, D-South Phoenix, the incoming Senate minority leader. Continue reading “That’s awkward: Trump touts Arizona election review that won’t happen”

Surging COVID-19 numbers prompt Tucson public schools to halt remainder of football season

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By Brandon Jones
Cronkite News

TUCSON – With the number of COVID-19 cases surging in Arizona, the football season for Tucson schools came to an abrupt end on Tuesday.

Gabriel Trujillo, superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District, made the decision to suspend the remainder of fall sports, mainly affecting football for the Tucson schools, which were set to compete with Tolleson and Phoenix schools in their own postseason tournament, separate from AIA competition.

“Out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of the Pima County Administrator’s Office and public health recommendations issued by the Pima County Health Department, I’ve made the difficult decision to suspend the remainder of the football season,” Trujillo said in a statement. “Effective today, all practices and games have been suspended. … Tucson Unified is not the only district to take this action as all southern Arizona school districts have also canceled the remainder of their respective game schedules which leaves our schools without opponents to play.” Continue reading “Surging COVID-19 numbers prompt Tucson public schools to halt remainder of football season”

‘So glad to be back’: After ASU cancels third game, Herm Edwards reflects on isolation

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By Christian Babcock
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – For the third straight week, Arizona State canceled its football game despite optimism for a return to the field.

That left coach Herm Edwards reflecting on how much he missed spending time with his players, something he couldn’t do while isolating with COVID-19.

“You have these reflection moments when you’re sitting there, laying there, whatever you’re doing. And you just think about all the things that are really important in your life,” Edwards said Wednesday. “And it was important for me to make sure that I was safe. I kept my family safe for the most part. Continue reading “‘So glad to be back’: After ASU cancels third game, Herm Edwards reflects on isolation”

Copper rush: Opponents worry feds have fast-tracked Resolution mine OK

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By Claire Chandler
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Activists worry that the Trump administration has fast-tracked the final environmental impact statement for the massive Resolution Copper mine, a project planned for lands near Superior that are claimed as sacred by the San Carlos Apache.

Opponents became alarmed when the U.S. Forest Service’s schedules of proposed action, which said the environmental statement would be completed by December 2021, suddenly shifted this year to a finishing date of this December, before President Donald Trump leaves office. Continue reading “Copper rush: Opponents worry feds have fast-tracked Resolution mine OK”

How Arizona universities are riding the waves of COVID-19

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By Haillie Parker
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – As cases of COVID-19 continue to surge in Arizona and the rest of the nation, the state’s three public universities are wrangling their approaches to the pandemic in similar but separate ways.

Arizona State University developed a saliva-based test and aims to monitor the spread through frequent mass testing.

The University of Arizona, unlike its counterparts, invested in a wastewater test to monitor the spread in highly populated places on campus and suggested a schoolwide shelter-in-place initiative.

Northern Arizona University, the smallest of the three, has changed the least. It adopted ASU’s saliva test and shares UArizona’s system for contact tracing, but it has been the most lenient with in-person education, offering classes with fewer than 45 students.

As the end of the semester nears, holiday travel ramps up and the pandemic reaches a critical juncture, college campuses and their thousands of students are being further scrutinized. Continue reading “How Arizona universities are riding the waves of COVID-19”

Food banks receive government assistance to fill bellies during the holidays

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By Ray Alonzo and Sthefany Rosales
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – At one point Tuesday, cars came through at a rate of one every minute, six lanes across, to get boxes and bags of turkeys, potatoes and canned food from St. Mary’s Food Bank.

Members of the National Guard and volunteers in neon-orange vests, all wearing masks or bandanas, loaded up one car trunk after another to help hundreds from going hungry as the holidays approach.

“Number 6!” “Number Four!” shouted the volunteers as uniformed members of the guard and others brought the boxes to cars and trunks. People also could walk up to get goods, but drive-thru dominated the operation Tuesday.

Hunger has soared in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has cratered the economy, snatched away jobs and removed the assurance that there always will be food on the table. To alleviate the suffering, local governments and nonprofit organizations are providing federal dollars. Continue reading “Food banks receive government assistance to fill bellies during the holidays”

COVID-19 cases could push hospital beds, staff to limit, official says

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By Calah Schlabach
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The recent surge in COVID-19 cases could push hospital staff and hospital bed capacity to the limit in coming weeks, particularly if people are not careful over Thanksgiving, an Arizona hospital official said Tuesday.

Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer for Banner Health, said its projections show the system will be using 125% of its licensed hospital beds by Dec. 4 as it grapples with the usual winter rise in patients and the sudden spike in COVID-19 cases. She compared this holiday weekend to Memorial Day weekend, when unrestricted gatherings were followed by a sharp spike in coronavirus cases. Continue reading “COVID-19 cases could push hospital beds, staff to limit, official says”

Inequality in dermatology brings misdiagnoses for patients of color

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By Allison Engstrom
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Lack of representation of people of color in research and textbooks – as well as in white coats – has created gaps of inequality that cause Black patients to be misdiagnosed and undertreated in the field of dermatology, experts say.

“Right now, the standard for dermatology is white skin,” said Dr. Chesahna Kindred, a dermatologist in Columbia, Maryland, and chair of the dermatology section of the National Medical Association, a group representing Black doctors and patients.

“If we’re training someone to be a skin expert and only treat them on white skin, obviously it’s no surprise that Black patients are more often misdiagnosed, mismanaged, mistreated,” Kindred said.

Images of patients with dark skin are hard to come by in both research and textbooks, experts note. In one study, researchers reviewed 4,146 images in common medical texts and found that just 4.5% were of individuals with dark skin, while nearly 75% were of people with light skin. Continue reading “Inequality in dermatology brings misdiagnoses for patients of color”

After weeks of fighting, ballot counting may be near finish in Arizona

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By Catherine Fusillo
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – All 15 Arizona counties had submitted official election results by Monday to the secretary of state, who will certify them in the next week or sooner – ending a contentious weeks-long battle over a normally routine process.

That included GOP lawsuits challenging the election, angry rallies outside the Maricopa County Ballot Tabulation Center and even death threats against Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

But the last of the lawsuits was dismissed Friday and while the Trump campaign is still pressuring other battleground states, Arizona appears to be out of the crosshairs. Continue reading “After weeks of fighting, ballot counting may be near finish in Arizona”

Holiday travel down this year, but millions still hit roads, airports

EDS: A previous version of this story gave the wrong town for Susan Green’s travel agency in graf 22. The business is located in Cave Creek. The story below has been corrected, but clients who used earlier versions are asked to run the correction found here.

By Josh Ortega
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Thanksgiving travel is expected to be down sharply this year because of COVID-19, but as many as 50 million Americans are still expected to travel this week despite pleas from health experts to stay home.

And those people who do travel could run into a bewildering array of restrictions when they reach their destinations, experts say. Continue reading “Holiday travel down this year, but millions still hit roads, airports”

Lost on the front lines: Health care workers in Southwest who died fighting COVID-19

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By Hannah Foote, Caitlynn McDaniel and Haley Lorenzen
Cronkite News

Health care workers across the country have risked their lives to care for COVID-19 patients, and Cronkite News reporters teamed up with the Guardian and Kaiser Health News to tell some of the stories of those who died because of exposure to the novel coronavirus that causes the deadly disease. Continue reading “Lost on the front lines: Health care workers in Southwest who died fighting COVID-19”

Mayors again call for statewide mask mandate as COVID-19 cases surge

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By Chase Hunter
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Democratic mayors from across the state urged Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday to implement a statewide mask mandate, as COVID-19 cases surged past 4,000 for a second straight day and state hospitals neared capacity in their intensive care units.

The call by mayors of Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and Tolleson came two days after Ducey called on Arizonans to take steps to stem the coronavirus, such as wearing masks, avoiding large crowds and limiting Thanksgiving and other holiday gatherings.

But he again declined to impose a mandate, a step the mayors said should no longer be an option. Continue reading “Mayors again call for statewide mask mandate as COVID-19 cases surge”

ASU basketball’s crowded backcourt gives ‘Guard U’ a preseason top 25 nod

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By Shane Dieffenbach
Cronkite News

LOS ANGELES – Eight months ago, Remy Martin threw his name into the hat that is the NBA Draft, leaving Arizona State basketball without its starting point guard. Two weeks after losing the poster child of “Guard U,” starting center Romello White followed Martin by declaring for the 2020 draft.

But the fog of uncertainty covering the Sun Devils’ future soon was dispelled by an unexpected source: guard Josh Christopher.

Just 12 days after the Sun Devils lost their starting big man, the five-star recruit shocked the college basketball world by choosing Arizona State over Michigan, Missouri, Southern Cal and UCLA. The All-American guard was ranked No. 11 in the nation by ESPN and is ASU basketball’s highest rated recruit ever.

The Sun Devils received more good news Aug. 2 when Martin withdrew from the NBA Draft. Suddenly, ASU looked dangerous. Continue reading “ASU basketball’s crowded backcourt gives ‘Guard U’ a preseason top 25 nod”

Football game cancellations rampant among Arizona high schools as COVID-19 cases rise

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By Brandon Jones
Cronkite News

SCOTTSDALE – After shuffling their schedule a whopping four times, the 2019 Open Division State runner up Saguaro Sabercats can truly say they have had to hustle to reach the five-game minimum to be eligible for the 2020 AIA playoffs.

Sabercats athletic director Matthew Harris described the difficulties of replacing the four opponents that were forced to cancel their games against Saguaro, which is 4-1.

“We had four opponents cancel on us. Of those four opponents we were only able to reschedule two games,” Harris said. “One of those games we rescheduled was Horizon, which was a previous opponent that had canceled, so it’s great to be able to make that one up. We (also) had a game canceled with Campo Verde. That was a week that at the last minute, about 30 hours before game time, we made an agreement to play (against) Casteel. We were really appreciative that they stepped up and were willing to play on such short notice, so that was a great feeling. Continue reading “Football game cancellations rampant among Arizona high schools as COVID-19 cases rise”

California high school athletes travel to Arizona to keep playing through COVID-19

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EDS: A previous version of this story gave an incorrect name for the group Next College Student Athlete. The story below has been corrected, but clients who used earlier versions are asked to run the correction found here.

By Johnny Messiha
Cronkite News

SAN CLEMENTE, California – High school athletes can’t play competitively this fall semester due to California’s pandemic restrictions, so some elite players are traveling to Arizona and other states to maintain their skills and continue developing a scouting profile for colleges.

With some high school sports indefinitely on hold, California athletes on club or travel teams are willing to travel to states with fewer restrictions, just for the chance to compete. Although physically distanced conditioning has been allowed since the start of school, local California districts have set their own timetables.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a delay of the release of statewide guidance on the resumption of school sports, citing an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases, the Los Angeles Times reported. This makes it much tougher on sports families to keep their kids involved competitively, including the Luce family, with three boys all involved in sports. Continue reading “California high school athletes travel to Arizona to keep playing through COVID-19”