Christopher Scragg

Christopher Scragg

Health Reporter, Washington, D.C.
Latest from Christopher Scragg

State taking steps to reopen economy, but reviving it could take years

WASHINGTON - Arizona took another tentative step toward reopening the state's economy Monday, when dine-in restaurants were allowed to resume limited service. But while reopening the economy could come relatively swiftly, experts say reviving the economy could take years.


New jobless claims fall, but unemployment rolls keep growing

WASHINGTON - The number of new jobless claims fell for a second straight week, but the number of unemployed continued to rise in Arizona and the nation in what one expert calls a shock to workers and a "huge shock" to the system.


Court upholds death penalty for only Native American on U.S. death row

WASHINGTON - An appeals court Thursday upheld the death sentence for Lezmond Mitchell, the only Native American on federal death row, and one of five inmates targeted last year for execution under a revived federal death penalty policy.


House OKs $484 billion in COVID-19 relief, loans could go out this week

WASHINGTON - Money could start flowing to distressed small businesses as early as this week, after the House overwhelmingly approved a $484 billion measure that refills the exhausted Paycheck Protection Program and adds funds for hospitals and other services.


Critics say Trump order on immigration does little but stir up anxiety

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump's executive order suspending immigration in the face of the coronavirus will "not have much of an effect" on the jobs the president said he's trying to protect, experts on both sides of the issue said Wednesday.


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

WASHINGTON - Mesa business owner Savannah Sander hoped a Paycheck Protection Program loan would keep her business afloat, when the $349 billion fund ran out of money week. Now, all she and other business owners can do is wait while Congress fights over plans to add another $251 billion to the program.


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

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.


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

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.


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

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.


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

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.


‘Overwhelming’ demand on first day of $349 billion small-business aid program

WASHINGTON - Banks and small businesses reported an overwhelming volume of calls and some confusion Friday as the Small Business Administration launched the first phase of the $2 trillion economic stimulus package in the face of COVID-19.


New jobless claims shatter week-old records in state, across nation

WASHINGTON - New jobless claims continued to soar to record heights in Arizona and the nation, with state filings jumping from the then-record 29,333 claims two weeks ago to 88,592 last week. It cames national claims jumped from 3.3 million to 6.6 million.


As COVID-19 cases rise, so do hospital workers’ worries about equipment

WASHINGTON - Arizona hospitals are rationing and ordering workers to reuse protective equipment like masks, gowns and eyewear in an attempt to head off shortages expected with the surge in COVID-19 patients in the state, a move some worry will put workers and patients at risk.


Trump signs $2 trillion relief bill hours after House rushes it through

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion economic stimulus package just hours after it was rushed through the House Friday, clearing the way for aid to businesses, increased benefits for workers and direct payments to taxpayers.


White House: Plan to turn away migrants aims to protect public health

WASHINGTON - Border officials will start turning away all undocumented migrants and asylum seekers beginning Saturday, in what President Donald Trump called an effort to protect "our border agents, migrants and to the public at large" from COVID-19.


Study: Arizona hospitals could be overwhelmed by COVID-19 case surge

WASHINGTON - A surge in coronavirus patients could overwhelm Arizona hospitals in the coming months if action is not taken now to expand hospital capacity and curb infections, according to a new study by the Harvard Global Health Institute. And the state is not alone.


Court ruling on Cuccinelli reverses – for now – limits on asylum claims

WASHINGTON - Soon after being named acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli sharply reduced the amount of time migrants have to make their case for asylum. One problem - Cuccinelli was not legally the acting director, a court ruled, voiding the policy in the process.


Trump touts economic accomplishments to receptive Latino business group

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump told an audience of Latino business leaders Wednesday that Hispanics are seeing economic gains across the board as a result of tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks that have led to " the booming Trump economy."


Advocates think health care funds safe – for now – but worry about trend

WASHINGTON - Arizona health care advocates are confident that President Donald Trump's plan to slash billions from health services is "dead on arrival" in Congress - but that doesn't mean they're happy with the administration's direction.


Socialism shares stage with conservatism at annual CPAC conference

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - Grand Canyon University student Talesa Jaramillo-Ortiz was excited to be celebrating with like-minded activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference here - even as she worried about the specter of socialism in this fall's elections, a theme that permeated the annual event.


Judge caps time CBP can hold migrants in ‘degrading’ Tucson centers

WASHINGTON - A federal judge ruled that Customs and Border Protection cannot hold immigrants for more than 48 hours in its Tucson-area facilities, which he said were not designed to meet "basic human needs ... for extended periods."


Report: Low pay makes disability caregivers a ‘workforce in crisis’

WASHINGTON - Arizona fared relatively well in a national report card on its care for people with developmental disabilities, but advocates fear those services are being threatened by low pay and high turnover rates for caregivers creating a "workforce in crisis" - in states across the country.


Democrats bring presidential debate to Phoenix, days before primary

WASHINGTON - The Democratic National Committee on Friday tapped Phoenix to host a presidential primary debate next month, a move that state Democrats called an acknowledgment of Arizona's increasing importance in the 2020 election.


Lawmakers blast plan to shift $3.8 billion from Pentagon to border wall

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration plans to tap the Pentagon for another $3.8 billion in military funds to pay for border wall construction this year, a move critics blasted as "theft," a raid and a money grab.


Arizonans among surprise Trump guests for State of the Union address

WASHINGTON – A young boy from Scottsdale and the parents of slain Prescott native Kayla Mueller were among President Donald Trump's surprise guests for his State of the Union address Tuesday night.


Sinema, McSally split as Senate rejects call for impeachment witnesses

WASHINGTON - Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema broke her silence Friday, voting with other Democrats in a failed attempt to call more witnesses in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, which now heads to a final vote next week.


Biggs, Schweikert cross aisle as House trims president’s war powers

WASHINGTON - Arizona Reps. Andy Biggs and David Schweikert were among just 11 Republicans who crossed party lines Thursday as the House voted to limit the president's ability to pursue military action without approval from Congress.


House panel OKs bill to undo Trump changes to Endangered Species Act

WASHINGTON - A House committee gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that would reverse Trump administration changes to the Endangered Species Act, after a heated debate between members over which side had the best interest of the act at heart.


Critics call proposed ban on ‘birth tourism’ misdirected, unenforceable

WASHINGTON - Critics are calling a Trump administration plan to curb so-called "birth tourism" unenforceable at best and "rooted in misogyny, xenophobia and racism" at worst, and say it is targeting the wrong people.

Visa Reprieve

New rules on school prayer, religious groups, hailed and assailed

WASHINGTON - Arizona religious groups said the Trump administration's release this week of regulations aimed at protecting religious expression "rights a serious wrong," but others expect the moves will have little practical impact.