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The mask mandate was first implemented in April 2020 by then-Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, who shared his concern about the lifted mandate on social media shortly after it was announced.

Almost three years after it was instituted to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Navajo Nation has lifted its mask mandate, making mask use optional in public spaces and businesses for the general public, and is now considered fully reopened to the general public. Read more»

Being certified in grief counseling doesn’t mean someone is a licensed counselor, but to the general public, it seems like the same thing: A certification can be easily mistaken for a professional license.

With COVID-19 deaths well past 6.5 million worldwide, the demand for grief counseling has exploded, but a shortage of trained and licensed mental health professionals has created a market opportunity for people without clinical training and licenses to work as grief therapists. Read more»

All 50 states and the District of Columbia require children to be vaccinated for childhood diseases before entering kindergarten, and every state allows medical exceptions for religious or philosophical reasons.

The percentage of U.S. children entering kindergarten with their required immunizations fell to 93% in the 2021-22 school year, 2 percentage points below recommended herd immunity levels of 95% and lower than vaccination rates in 2020-21. Read more»

Oro Valley has millions of federal dollars to spend by the end of the calendar year. The town just has to figure out where the money goes.

Oro Valley's Town Council has some decisions to make involving how to spend its remaining $5.4 million in coronavirus relief money. Marana's OKing a new contract for the town manager — salary unknown. Plus more in local government meetings this week. Read more»

Dr. Theresa Cullen, Pima County's health director, was chosen to take over ADHS, replacing Don Herrington, who has been the interim director since Aug. 26, 2021, shortly after Dr. Cara Christ left the position. Christ made her exit at a time when Gov. Doug Ducey held his stance against a statewide mask mandate despite CDC recommendations to mask and rising COVID case numbers.

Across the country, health officials have been trying to combat misinformation and restore trust within their communities these past few years, a period when many people haven’t put full faith in their state and local health departments. Read more»

It's a long, dry haul to secure Tucson's water future and rates are set to increase to foot the bill.

Water, trash, space and a big old "I told you so" headline this week's agendas of the Tucson City Council and Pima County Board of Supervisors. Plus more in local government meetings this week. Read more»

An Arizona National Guard soldier tests a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation for COVID-19 in Santa Rosa in August, 2020.

The true toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on many communities of color — from Portland, Oregon, to Navajo Nation tribal lands in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, to sparsely populated rural Texas towns — is worse than previously known. Read more»

COVID-19 cases and deaths are down sharply from the height of the pandemic, but COVID-19 has still been responsible for more than 2.3 million infections and 32,182 deaths in Arizona in the past three years, and health experts say it’s likely here to stay.

Almost three years after the first COVID-19 cases were detected in Arizona, here’s what we know: It hits the elderly hardest, it spikes in summer and winter, it killed men in Arizona at sharply higher rates than women and new strains continue to evolve. Read more»

Havasu Falls, one of five Havasupai waterfalls deep in Arizona’s Havasu Canyon, an offshoot of Grand Canyon National Park but on lands administered by the Havasupai Indian Tribe.

President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration for Arizona's Havasupai Tribe and ordered federal aid to supplement the tribe’s response and recovery efforts in areas affected by October flooding within the community. Read more»

'It was a big scare at that time,' Valentina Nez of Tonalea says, referring to the early days of the pandemic. She received a booster shot at the Tuba City Regional Health Care mobile medical unit.

Newly compiled data reveals how severely the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Indigenous communities in Arizona at the onset of the pandemic, and it shows how the community’s response helped reverse the trends in 2021.  Read more»

Nonviolent offenses had the most significant percentage reduction while the number of people charged with violent crimes increased.

According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report, federal arrests declined by 35 percent from fiscal year 2020 to 2021, ending at the lowest number of arrests in two decades - but the number of people charged with a federal offense decreased less than 1 percent.  Read more»

Medicare wasn’t the only government program targeted for laboratory fraud - health care providers found quick access to money in the federal fund for testing people without insurance.

Medicare’s COVID-19 testing costs reached over $2 billion in 2022 - and the growing costs concern some experts, who say financial incentives and a lack of regulation early in the pandemic led to fraud and overspending. Read more»

Arizona’s vaccination rates, which have been declining for years, dropped sharply during the pandemic and haven’t rebounded.

Vaccination rates among schoolchildren in Arizona have steadily declined since 2012, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the drop across the state - and the trend is unlikely to reverse any time soon, which could result in serious health consequences in the future. Read more»

A view of the Tucson City Hall in 2022.

The IDEA beat in 2022 reported on Southern Arizona, Pima County and Tucson during a time of shocking violence in the community, the end to COVID-19 measures and funding and an important midterm election. Read more»

Title 42’s demise began when a federal judge struck down the policy at the request of immigration advocates. When the Biden administration revealed its intention to comply with the ruling, 19 Republican states -led by Arizona - intervened.

In a split decision, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a fight over the conclusion of Title 42 - and while the Biden administration’s immigration policy hangs in the balance, the court agreed only to decide if the 19 states have a basis to intervene in the case.  Read more»

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