Cronkite News Digest for Tuesday, July 14

Here is your Cronkite News lineup for Tuesday, July 14. If you have questions on news stories from the Phoenix bureau, please contact Executive Editor Christina Leonard at 602-361-5893 or, while questions about stories from our Washington bureau should go to Steve Crane at 202-684-2398 or Sports story questions can be directed to Paola Boivin at Clients who want to use Cronkite videos can find clean versions, and scripts, for download in a Dropbox – if interested, contact Executive Editor Christina Leonard at for access. Stories promised for today, along with photos and links to multimedia elements, will post to our client site at


Abrupt reversal of ICE rule lets international students in Arizona breathe easier

PHOENIX – MJ Gao was all set to make her roommate the godmother of her two cats, before the Trump administration reversed itself Tuesday and abruptly canceled a plan to deport some international students. Gao, an international student set to start her senior year at Arizona State University, feared she would have to leave after Immigration and Customs Enforcement last week ordered that anyone here on a student visa would have to go home if their school was offering online instruction only this fall. But that rule was quickly challenged in court by states and schools – including all three public universities in Arizona – and abruptly dropped Tuesday at the start of a hearing in the first of those suits. Contact Steve Crane with questions.

Slug: BC-CNS-Students Reversal. 740 words. By Ellie Borst.

File photo available.

Good roads, bad drivers: Arizona interstates deadliest in nation, report says

WASHINGTON – Arizona’s interstate highways are in generally good shape, but they experienced the highest rate of fatalities in the nation in 2018, according to a national report released Tuesday. The report by The Road Information Program said that Arizona recorded 1.09 highway deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled on the state’s interstate highways in 2018, almost twice the national average of 0.58 deaths that year. Authors of the report used it as a call for more funding to rebuild roads, but public and private officials in Arizona said it’s not the roads that are the issue – it’s risky driver behaviors. Contact Steve Crane with questions.

Slug: BC-CNS-Deadly Highways. 600 words. By Blake Freas.

2 file photos available.

One Cuban migrant family’s long, perilous journey to freedom

PHOENIX – Maureny Reves Benitez and her parents are among the thousands of political asylum-seekers whose journey to the United States was heavily influenced by fast-changing immigration policies under Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump. A key change impacting Cuban refugees came in the final days of Obama’s presidency, when authorities ended a two-decade old policy known as “wet-foot, dry-foot,” which allowed Cubans who made it to U.S. soil to stay in the country and automatically become legal permanent residents. That has pushed many, including Maureny’s family, to risk a treacherous overland route through Panama’s Darién province.

Slug: BC-CNS Journey Through Panama, 3,660 words. By Lidia Terrazas.

2 photos and 1 map available.


COVID-19 en Arizona: Alcaldes urgen a Ducey que imponga restricciones en el estado

TUCSON – El gobernador Doug Ducey está bajo fuertes críticas por no haber hecho lo suficiente para frenar el aumento de los casos de COVID-19 en el estado, de acuerdo a varios alcaldes. Los alcaldes de Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Tempe y Tolleson dijeron en una carta al gobernador que estaban “profundamente preocupados por el aumento exponencial” en los casos de COVID-19 en el estado y pidieron a Ducey que implementara restricciones más estrictas a nivel estatal. 

Nombre: CN-COVID-AZ-ALCAL, 1040 palabras. Por Frankie McLister

1 foto disponible.


On the bubble: Despite widespread criticism, Phoenix players saying they’re adjusting to unique setup 

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Mercury have been inside the WNBA’s “bubble” at IMG Academy for about a week now and, despite the chatter from other players on social media, they seem to be adjusting well. Mercury guard Diana Taurasi sounded excited when asked how life inside the bubble was treating her. “It’s really like the Olympics meets the World Championship meeting the Final Four,” she said before praising the food and service.

Slug: Sports-Phoenix Mercury Bubble. 740 words. By Zachary Spiecker.

File photo available.

Coronavirus sports roundup: Cardinals season ticket holders await news, JC baseball players react

PHOENIX – On the heels of a report that the NFL Players Association is concerned about opening training camps in “hot spot cities,” season ticket holders for the Arizona Cardinals are awaiting news on their options for 2020. Also, Maricopa County junior college players speak out, and the Arizona Coyotes are happy to be back on the ice,

Slug: target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”Sports-Coronavirus Sports Wrapup. About 1,300 words. By Jordan Rogers and Brett Bavcevic.

File photo available.


Inmate’s brother seeks his release to escape COVID-19 risks behind bars

PHOENIX — A concerted effort has been mounted to secure the release of Neko Wilson, a 38-year-old with hypertension and asthma who’s in Navajo County Jail for violating his parole for a crime committed nearly 17 years ago. Wilson fears the cramped conditions in the jail, along with his underlying health issues, make it far more likely he’ll get COVID-19, which was detected in the jail in mid-June. Wilson’s legal team includes a brother who’s a criminal defense attorney, and he has public support from many people, including a congressional hopeful who’s making criminal justice reform the centerpiece of her campaign. Wilson now has an Aug. 3 release hearing date, as well as an appeal before the state Supreme Court.

Slug: BC-CNS Free Neko Wilson, 2,730 words. By Bree Florence.

4 photos, 1 video and 1 timeline available.

Smoking could worsen progression of COVID-19, research finds

PHOENIX – From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, health experts have pointed to smoking as one of several risk factors that could worsen the disease and potentially lead to death. Now an analysis of available research shows just how dangerous tobacco use might be during COVID-19 – nearly doubling the risk of disease progression in smokers and former smokers. “Smoking significantly worsens COVID-19,” said Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. In 2018, nearly 14 of every 100 U.S. adults smoked cigarettes.

Slug: BC-CNS Smoking and COVID, 950 words. By Yaodong Gu.

1 graphic available.

How Arizona’s COVID-19 pandemic unfolded: A timeline

Cronkite News has produced a timeline of COVID-19 developments and the responses by Gov. Doug Ducey, Arizona health officials and Navajo leaders. As the pandemic continues to unfold, the timeline will be updated.

Slug: BC-CNS Arizona COVID Timeline, 45 words. By Hannah Foote.

1 graphic available.


Migrant detention center operators defend facilities’ response to COVID-19

PHOENIX – The head of the private company that runs a migrant detention center in Eloy told a House panel Monday that he is “immensely proud” of its operations, despite lawmakers charges of mishandling the COVID-19 crisis. CoreCivic CEO Damon Hininger was one of four private contractors who testified to a House Homeland Security subcommittee on their operation of detention center for Immigration and Customs Enforcement – contracts worth billions, committee Democrats noted. The contractors insisted their facilities meet health guidelines and are safe in the face of what Hininger called a time of unprecedented challenges. But Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-New York, said it is “clear that ICE and its contractors have not taken this outbreak seriously and have not treated it aggressively enough.” Contact Steve Crane with questions.

Slug: BC-CNS-ICE Detention. 700 words. By Farah Eltohamy.

2 file photo available.

COVID-19 in Arizona: Mayors call on Ducey to impose statewide restrictions

TUCSON – A day after he imposed new restrictions to curb the steep increase in COVID-19 cases in the state, Gov. Doug Ducey was still coming under fire Friday for not doing enough. Mayors of Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Tempe and Tolleson said they were “deeply concerned with the exponential rise” in COVID-19 cases in the state and called on Ducey to implement stronger, statewide restrictions. And a Pima County official criticized what he called a lack of leadership from the administration. The comments came as a new poll showed Ducey with the lowest ranking among governors for his handling of the coronavirus. Contact Steve Crane with questions.

Slug: BC-CNS-Arizona COVID Update. 1,150 words. By Frankie McLister.

Graphic available.

Ducey’s order delaying school start has one lawmaker questioning his authority

PHOENIX – The fact that Gov. Doug Ducey’s order delaying the start of the fall school year came from the governor, and not through the Legislature, has raised questions for state lawmakers like Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, and chair of the Senate Education Committee. She wants to see a special legislative session to to take up the issue and “get back to the constitutional operations of our state.”  House Education Committee Chairwoman Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, doubts a special legislative session is feasible, and worries how many legislators would actually show up because of COVID-19 concerns. But she said she “would love” to hold a special session to address education issues in the state – under different circumstances.

Slug: BC-CNS School Delay, 880 words. By Chance Dorland.


Impulsan igualdad en tratamiento de trastornos alimenticios entre personas de color

PHOENIX – Los cambios en el estilo de vida asociados al COVID-19 han aumentado la preocupación entre los profesionales de la salud sobre los trastornos como la anorexia, bulimia, comer compulsivamente y otros desórdenes alimenticios. Pero un grupo demográfico está llamando especialmente la atención: las mujeres de raza negra, quienes durante mucho tiempo han sido ignoradas en esta área especializada de tratamiento.

Nombre: CN-BLM-Trastornos, 1638 palabras. Por Allison Barton.

3 fotos disponibles


‘A David and Goliath scenario’: Native voices in Arizona react to NFL Washington’s name change

PHOENIX – Washington’s NFL team on Monday officially dropped its name, a derogatory term for Native Americans that the team has held since 1933. Native leaders and supporters in Arizona hailed a change activists have been worked toward for decades. The reactions ranged from relief to reflection. In the midst of the celebration, one Navajo leader suggested a new name that “honors” Native Americans, while the activist who led the movement to get rid of the name said the team needs to commit to a rebranding that avoids racism.

Slug: Sports-Washington NFL Name.  1,081 words, By Jordan Rogers.

Photos available.

Coronavirus sports roundup: Suns adjust to bubble life, Bidwill released from hospital

PHOENIX – With the Suns inside the NBA’s Orlando “bubble” for almost a week, Devin Booker is adjusting to a new lifestyle pace. While other players have been seen on social media fishing or participating in other activities, Booker told reporters on a Zoom call Monday that his days “just consist of practice and getting to know yourself.”

Slug: Sports-Coronavirus Sports Roundup. 820 words. By Zachary Spiecker and Christian Babcock.

File photo available.

‘Symbol of erasure, exploitation, racism’: Arizona community reacts to Washington nickname controversy

PHOENIX – Amid pressure from sponsors including Nike and FedEx, Washington’s NFL team is undergoing discussions to change its name, a move some prominent voices in the Arizona Native American community feel is long overdue. “A lot of Native American people do not want to be looked at as a sidekick, a caricature or a stereotype,” said Douglas Miles, an artist, activist and member of the Apache tribe. “This is all we’ve been given; it is all we have. Unfortunately, there’s this kind of ‘strain.’ We’ve just been conditioned to accept it. Even now, it’s still an uphill battle.”

Slug: Sports-Washington Offensive Nickname. 1.340 words. By Jordan Rogers.

Photos available.

COVID-19 sports wrap-up: Pac-12 goes all conference games, ASU won’t release coronavirus testing results

PHOENIX –The Pac-12 announced Friday it will play only a non-conference schedule for football. Additionally, 69 FBS schools nationwide have released or reported data on coronavirus testing, Arizona State is not one of them. Across the country, there has been a wave of universities deciding to cut numerous sports programs in order to save money due to the coronavirus pandemic. That wave hit Stanford on Wednesday as it decided to drop 11 programs including wrestling and men’s volleyball. The move will save the school $70 million, The New York Times reported.

Slug: Sports-Coronavirus Sports Wrap-up. About 850 words. By Jordan Rogers and Christian Babcock.

File photo available.