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Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from May 17-19

(Getty Images Photo for Civic Entertainment Group/Steve Jennings)

A famous feline dies, a new degree program for paramedics, Arizona’s U.S. senators talk tariffs and an Arizona study that helps improve autism detection in children.

Here are some stories that headlined the news cycle, both locally and nationally, over the weekend.


Sad face: Arizona’s Grumpy Cat dies after illness at age 7

Grumpy Cat, the Arizona pet whose frowning face delighted the internet for the past few years, has died at age 7.

Grumpy Cat’s owners posted to social media Friday that the Phoenix-area animal star had “passed away peacefully … in the arms of her mommy” earlier this week.

The note said the cat had died Tuesday from complications of a urinary tract infection.

The cat, whose real name was Tardar Sauce, first gained attention from her Morristown, Arizona, home in 2012, when owner Tabatha Bundesen first posted photos of the sourpuss.

She had more than 2 million followers on Instagram and more than 1 million on Twitter.


University of Arizona to offer new degree program for paramedics

A new degree program for trained paramedics is coming to the University of Arizona this fall.

The Bachelor of Science major and minor in emergency medical services is designed to enhance emergency medical professionals’ leadership and clinical skills, preparing them for a future in prehospital medicine.

The program will be one of only a few in the nation administered through a clinical department.

“It really is an atypical career in the sense that we work 24 hours a day and there isn’t an hour where emergencies don’t occur,” Joshua Gaither, UA associate professor of emergency medicine, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

In April, the Arizona Board of Regents approved the new program.


Arizona’s US senators discuss tariffs during Chamber of Commerce event

Arizona’s U.S. senators practically mirrored each other in remarks to the Arizona Chamber of Commerce on Friday, but they slightly deviate on one topic: tariffs.

Democrat Kyrsten Sinema applauded President Donald Trump lifting tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

“Removing those tariffs will help us move forward with the USMCA,” she said, referring to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, during a luncheon at the Arizona Biltmore.

“I’m still real down on all the tariffs with China. That’s not good for us.”

Sinema and Martha McSally, her Republican counterpart, said American consumers will pay for the tariffs in the products they purchase.

McSally doesn’t like possible extra Chinese tariffs, either, but understands why the Trump administration is threatening to impose them.

“We were trying to get some negotiating space,” she said. “We were hoping for a breakthrough in the last few weeks. It looks like China reneged on some of the things they had previously agreed to.”


Arizona autism study significantly improves average age of detection

A five-year study from Arizona’s Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center has helped improve autism detection in children.

In the study, SARRC’s average age of detection was 22 months. That’s more than half the average age of detection in the state reported by the Centers for Disease Control, which is 55 months.

Some cases in the study were even detected as young as 14 months.

Dr. Christopher Smith, vice president and research director at SARRC, said early detection is key.

“It’s just like anything else, like any other type disorder,” Smith said.

“If you feel yourself kind of getting a cold you want to get in there and treat it early … You want to address any kind of medical condition early. Autism is no different.”


Dentists can help stop domestic violence, Phoenix researcher finds

Researchers are learning how dentists can be the first line of defense against domestic violence.

Dentists can identify patients with severe blows to the head, neck and face.

“Unlike the cheeks, where you may be able to put on foundation or other types of cover up, you’re not going to be able to cover those up inside the mouth,” said Jonathan Lifshitz, director of the Translational Neurotrauma Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.

He adds that even hygienists can identify wounds to gums and teeth — old and new — stemming from abuse.

Lifshitz hopes dental care providers can keep this at front of mind, “and then refer to the appropriate resources that may be necessary to overcome the issues that are associated with domestic violence.”


Phoenix elementary school awarded $100,000 gym

One lucky local school got recognized for encouraging students to exercise and live healthy lives.

Dozens of students from Brunson-Lee Elementary School in Phoenix burst into a loud cheer Thursday when their school was announced as the winner of a $100,000 gym.

It’s part of the “Get Fit. Don’t Quit!” Spotlight Awards. During a ceremony at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Thursday, the school took home the title of Arizona’s school of the year.

Fitness icon Jake Steinfeld presented the award to the students.

“What I love most about Brunson-Lee was their engagement with the kids — not just about exercise, but nutrition,” Steinfeld said. “And they understand that academics and fitness go hand in hand.”


Phoenix set for abnormally low high temperature on Monday

If it doesn’t feel like summer in Phoenix yet, there’s good reason.

The city is in the midst of one of its coolest months of May in recent memory and that trend will continue into early next week.

The National Weather Service is predicting a high temperature of 75 degrees on Monday.

Historically, there is just a 2% chance of having high temperatures below 80 degrees this late into May.

“We’ve had this persistent atmospheric circulation pattern which has kind of locked some things in place in a way that’s allowing low pressure systems to move through the desert Southwest more frequently than in an average year,” Austin Jamison, an NWS meteorologist and forecaster, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Saturday.

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