Thursday, August 6, 2020

Your Southern AZ COVID-19 Roundup for Thursday, Aug. 6: Total cases hit 183K; Death toll tops 4K; Meeting with Ducey, Trump says AZ is stomping out “embers” of outbreak; in-person school has been canceled until at least Labor Day

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2020 at 9:13 AM

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The number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 183,000 as of Thursday, Aug. 5, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County had seen 17,293 of the state’s 183,647 confirmed cases.

A total of 4,002 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, according to the Aug. 6 report.

Arizona hospitals remain under pressure although the number of patients has declined from a peak last month. ADHS reported that as of Aug. 5, 1,879 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state, down from a peak of 3,517 on July 13.

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A total of 1,136 people visited ERs on Aug. 5 with COVID symptoms. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7.

A total of 593 COVID-19 patients were in ICU beds on Aug. 5. The number in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13.

Trump praises Ducey’s response

Gov. Doug Ducey met with President Donald Trump and the White House COVID-19 Task Force in the Oval Office yesterday.

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Trump praised Ducey’s response to COVID-19, saying Ducey had demonstrated how to get soaring COVID-19 cases under control without shutting down the economy.

Ducey lifted Arizona’s stay-at-home order in mid-May and allowed bars, gyms, movie theaters and other spaces where people congregate to reopen. Arizona’s numbers then skyrocketed as the virus became widespread and hospital beds filled. Under pressure, Ducey then allowed local authorities to enact measures requiring the wearing of masks, though he did not issue such an order himself. He also closed down gyms, theaters, water parks and some bars and limited restaurants to 50 percent capacity. Arizona’s numbers began to plateau in mid-July but the virus remains so widespread in Arizona that schools are unable to reopen for in-class sessions this month and instead will be conducted online.

Although Ducey has been out of town this week, the Ducey administration is set to unveil contagion metrics to guide school reopenings by tomorrow.

Coronavirus ravaging Tucson prison

Nearly half of all incarcerated people housed inside the Whetstone Unit of the Tucson state prison complex have tested positive for COVID-19, the Arizona Department of Corrections announced Tuesday evening.

The department indicated that 517 people out of the total 1,066 population have the virus. They are currently being housed together in a separate living area and are receiving “appropriate medical care.”

“They will not be allowed back into the general population until they have been medically cleared,” the department said in a press release. “In addition to measures that are already in place, all inmates at Whetstone will receive meals and all required medication and medical services in their housing units.”

More than 890 people have tested positive for COVID-19 across the state’s 16 prison complexes and 15 people have died. The Tucson prison is clearly dealing with a widespread outbreak and has the most positive cases of all locations.

Gridlock in DC

The U.S. Senate returned to work this week to continue work on a new federal aid package. GOP leaders rolled out a $1 trillion aid package last week but it stalled after squabbles broke out within the GOP caucus and with the White House. Negotiations are primarily between the White House and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Senate has not taken up the $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year.

Last week, the extra $600 a week in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation that out-of-work Arizonans have been receiving expired.

Gov. Ducey, who said last week there’s no reason to increase Arizona’s current maximum unemployment payment of $240 a week, has asked Arizona's congressional delegation to consider a number of provisions to help Arizona in the latest coronavirus package, including an extension of extra money for people who are out of work as a result of the pandemic.

—By Jim Nintzel with additional reporting from Kathleen B. Kunz, Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner, and Tara Foulkrod

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