Cronkite News Digest — ADVISORY

Eds: Cronkite News will not be moving fresh content today, Thursday, June 4. In the meantime, please see our client site (https://cronkitenews.jmc.asu.edu/clients/) for all of our text, photos, videos and graphic content, and look to Wednesday’s digest (https://cronkitenews.jmc.asu.edu/clients/?p=42414) for a complete list of the stories that have moved over the past week. And thank you, as always, for your continued support of our students and our content.

CORRECTION to May 21 story on city population gains

EDS: Clients who used a Cronkite News story slugged BC-CNS-Buckeye Bumped that moved Thursday, May 21, under a PHOENIX dateline are asked to run the following correction. The error occurred in the headline and in graf 3 of the original. A corrected version of the story has been posted here.

PHOENIX – Due to an editing error, a May 21 Cronkite News story on new city population data from the Census Bureau incorrectly stated Phoenix’s gains relative to other cities. Phoenix was again the No. 1 city in the country for its population growth from 2018-2019, when it was the nation’s fifth-largest city overall.

 

CORRECTION to April 27 story on congressional fundraising

EDS: Clients who used a Cronkite News story slugged BC-CNS-Challenger Funding that moved Monday, April 27, under a TEMPE dateline are asked to run the following correction. The error occurred in grafs 25-26 of the original. A corrected version of the story has been posted here.

TEMPE – An April 27 story on campaign fundraising in Arizona congressional races incorrectly stated the status of Emily Robinson in the 4th District and Jimmy Rodriguez in the 8th District. Robinson is not on the ballot and Rodriguez has withdrawn from the race.

Businesses hurry up and wait, as relief funds dry up, new fund stalls

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By Christopher Scragg
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Mesa business owner Savannah Sanders said it felt like getting “a bomb dropped on you”: Shortly after being approved for a loan to keep her business afloat, the bank said the federal loan program was out of money.

Now Sanders, like business owners across the country, will have to wait while Congress wrangles over plans to add another $251 billion to the original $349 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program. Continue reading “Businesses hurry up and wait, as relief funds dry up, new fund stalls”

Tribal leaders struggle against ‘very slow’ allocation of COVID-19 aid

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By Joshua Gerard Gargiulo
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The Navajo Nation has the country’s third-highest rate of COVID-19 infections, but it has had to watch as funds go to less hard-hit areas in a “very slow” federal aid process, Navajo President Jonathan Nez said Friday.

Nez was one of several tribal leaders from around the country participating in a virtual House Natural Resources Committee session on the federal response to coronavirus in Indian Country – and their consensus was that the response has not been good. Continue reading “Tribal leaders struggle against ‘very slow’ allocation of COVID-19 aid”

Arizona Supreme Court, coping with COVID-19, hears first case via video

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By McKenzie Sadeghi
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Joshua Carden had reason to be nervous as he argued his first case before the Arizona Supreme Court this week – never mind that he also had to argue that case over video from an office in his basement.

Carden was one of the first attorneys to argue before the justices via video conference, as the court tried to continue its work while practicing social distancing in the face of COVID-19. Continue reading “Arizona Supreme Court, coping with COVID-19, hears first case via video”

Trump taps three Arizona lawmakers for ‘opening America again’ group

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By Joshua Gerard Gargiulo
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Both Arizona senators and a House member were named Thursday to President Donald Trump’s “Opening Up America Again” task force, which is charged with looking at ways to start easing business and social restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus.

It’s hardly an exclusive club – Trump named 32 House members and 65 senators to the bipartisan panel that tilts heavily Republican.

But Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Republican Sen. Martha McSally and Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, all said they were honored to be on the task force and eager to get to work. Continue reading “Trump taps three Arizona lawmakers for ‘opening America again’ group”

State, U.S. jobless claims dip slightly, but still ‘shockingly high’

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By Christopher Scragg
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – After three weeks of record-breaking unemployment filings, jobless claims for the state and the nation dipped slightly last week, but they were still in what one economist called “shockingly high” territory.

Arizona recorded 95,382 new unemployment claims last week, down from 132,382 the week before, according to preliminary numbers from the Arizona Department of Economic Security. The Labor Department said claims nationwide fell to 5.2 million last week from the previous 6.6 million. Continue reading “State, U.S. jobless claims dip slightly, but still ‘shockingly high’”

Hospitals near ‘financial extinction’ from limits to prep for COVID-19

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By Christopher Scragg
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona hospitals are facing “dire financial consequences” and furloughing staff, as cutbacks meant to prepare for COVID-19 cases have instead cost them as much as $575 million a month, about 30-40% of normal revenues statewide.

The cancellation of elective procedures meant to free up beds for potential coronavirus patients, combined with a drop in emergency room visits, has deprived hospitals of the “cash cows” they need to stay afloat in an industry that otherwise has margins of only 3-4%, advocates said. Continue reading “Hospitals near ‘financial extinction’ from limits to prep for COVID-19”

Driving’s down – and that’s driving down insurance claims, premiums

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By MacKinley Lutes-Adlhoch
Cronkite News

TEMPE – While social distancing and staying at home may be driving you up the wall, it could also be driving down your auto insurance premiums.

With fewer cars on the roads, auto insurance claims have dropped 80-90% in major cities and 60% in rural areas within the last month, according to the Consumer Federation of America. As a result, it said, companies holding more than 80% of car insurance policies in the county have pledged rebates, credits or direct payments to their customers.

But not all the relief is equal, advocates say, and some consumers may have to fight for the benefit. Continue reading “Driving’s down – and that’s driving down insurance claims, premiums”

Coronavirus relief payments start landing in Arizonans’ bank accounts

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By McKenzie Sadeghi
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Thousands of dollars started arriving in Arizonans’ bank accounts this week as the first payments from the massive coronavirus relief package began to be distributed in the form of expanded unemployment benefits and direct stimulus payments.

The Treasury said Economic Impact Payments started to be disbursed this week, with the majority of Americans expected to get theirs within the next two weeks. Those payments are worth about $1,200 each to most Americans, with an additional $500 for each dependent child.

Unemployed workers, meanwhile, started seeing an extra $600 in their benefits this week, according to the Arizona Department Economic Security. Continue reading “Coronavirus relief payments start landing in Arizonans’ bank accounts”

EPA won’t expand pollutant rule; ‘mistake’ during COVID-19, critics say

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By Jessica Myers
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday it will not expand Obama-era air quality standards, a move environmentalists call “the wrong thing to be doing” during a global pandemic that threatens lung health.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said Tuesday the National Ambient Air Quality Standards do not need to be toughened from 2013 levels because the U.S. has “made incredible strides in reducing particulate matter concentrations.”

But environmentalists called the proposal “totally backwards.” Continue reading “EPA won’t expand pollutant rule; ‘mistake’ during COVID-19, critics say”

Gun sales rose to record levels in March, as COVID-19 fears climbed

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By Jessica Myers
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Arizona processed a record 82,771 background checks on would-be gun buyers in March, as fears of the coronavirus drove people to gun shops in what one shop owner called “panic time.”

It was twice as high as any March in the state since FBI background checks began in 1998 and almost one-quarter of the total sales in Arizona for all of 2019, according to NICS Firearm Checks data, which showed a doubling of background checks from February. Continue reading “Gun sales rose to record levels in March, as COVID-19 fears climbed”

Businesses running out of time, as delays plague week-old loan program

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By Christopher Scragg
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – While Congress and the White House are promising to add billions to the Paycheck Protection Program, some small businesses say they are just trying to hang on long enough to get the money there now.

Advocates say overwhelming demand and confusion have delayed disbursement of the $349 billion in loans made available last Friday under the program aimed to help businesses suffering as a result of coronavirus lockdowns.

Small Business Administration officials have acknowledged that complicated policies, a surge of applications and the “newness” of the program made for a bumpy roll out. One SBA official In Arizona said while she doesn’t “have a crystal ball,” she expects the system to stabilize in the coming days. Continue reading “Businesses running out of time, as delays plague week-old loan program”

Border officials use COVID-19 fear to turn away 6,306 at southern border

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By Joshua Gerard Gargiulo
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Border agents turned away 6,306 migrants at the southern border in just 10 days after President Donald Trump authorized the immediate return of immigrants and asylum seekers under a 1944 law to check communicable diseases like COVID-19.

Critics charge that the spread of coronavirus was merely a pretext to the administration’s real goal of continuing to turn away people at the border and denying them the due process rights. Continue reading “Border officials use COVID-19 fear to turn away 6,306 at southern border”

State, national jobless claims continue surge, experts see no end

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By Joshua Gerard Gargiulo
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Another 129,215 Arizonans filed for unemployment last week, boosting the number of new jobless in the state above a quarter million since March 1, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Economic Security.

The Arizona numbers are part of a growing coronavirus-driven loss of jobs that saw more than 16 million Americans register for unemployment in recent weeks, breaking records at both the state and national levels. Continue reading “State, national jobless claims continue surge, experts see no end”

Food-stamp purchases could soon go online under SNAP pilot program

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By Jessica Myers
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Arizona food-stamp recipients may soon be able to buy their groceries online, after the federal government’s swift approval this week of the state’s request in the face of coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders.

Wednesday’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture came less than a week after Arizona asked to be part of a pilot program that lets recipients use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to buy from approved online retailers like Amazon and Walmart. Continue reading “Food-stamp purchases could soon go online under SNAP pilot program”

Report: Migrant workers faced dangerous conditions even before COVID-19

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By Christopher Scragg
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Migrant farmworkers are in “serious danger” of contracting coronavirus because of ongoing poor conditions like overcrowded housing, buses and lack of access to healthcare, according to a new report.

The report by the Centro de los Derechos del Migrante group surveyed 100 migrant workers from Mexico with temporary H-2A visas from September 2019 to January 2020, before the spike on coronavirus cases across the U.S.

“The findings of this report would be deeply troubling in more ordinary times and these are not ordinary times,” said Mary Bauer, lead counsel for the center in a conference call Wednesday. Continue reading “Report: Migrant workers faced dangerous conditions even before COVID-19”

Sanders drops out, but Arizona supporters say they are still in the fight

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By McKenzie Sadeghi
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his 2020 Democratic presidential bid Wednesday, but his Arizona supporters said they will still push his message of Medicare for all, eliminating student debt and raising the minimum wage.

“He’s changed the paradigm in American politics and we’re never going to go back,” said Dan O’Neal. He said Sanders’ campaign was “something that inspires people, you know, for what’s possible in the future. So I’m optimistic, not pessimistic.”

In an online address to supporters Wednesday, Sanders said that while “the path toward victory is virtually impossible,” he plans to stay on the ballot in the remaining states and continue to gather delegates. Continue reading “Sanders drops out, but Arizona supporters say they are still in the fight”

Seder-in-a-box and drive-in church: Worship during social distancing

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By MacKinley Lutes-Adlhoch
Cronkite News

TEMPE – On any other Passover, Rabbi Mendy Deitsch would gather with 150 people to celebrate Seder, but that’s impossible in the face of COVID-19 social distancing.

So Deitsch and his congregation came up with the next best thing – Seder in a box, to be delivered to hundreds of temple members to celebrate the feast at home.

It’s one of the many ways area religious leaders are coping with social distancing guidelines when religions are celebrating some of their most-important holidays, with Easter, Passover and Ramadan all falling in April. Continue reading “Seder-in-a-box and drive-in church: Worship during social distancing”