Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup: Total Cases Top 218K; UA Sees Decline in Cases, Lifts Self-Quarantine Order for Students; Get a Free Coronavirus Test

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2020 at 9:31 AM

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With 675 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 218,000 as of Tuesday, Sept. 29, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

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Pima County had seen 25,569 of the state’s 218,184 confirmed cases.

With nine new deaths today, a total of 5,632 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 621 deaths in Pima County, according to the Sept. 29 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases continues to decline from July peaks. ADHS reported that as of Sept. 28, 540 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. The number of hospitalized COVID patients peaked at 3,517 on July 13.

A total of 653 people visited emergency rooms on Sept. 28 with COVID symptoms. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7.

A total of 119 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Sept. 28. The number of COVID patients in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13.

On a week-by-week basis in Pima County, the number of positive COVID tests peaked the week ending July 4 with 2,453 cases, according to a Sept. 25 report from the Pima County Health Department. While a vocal minority continues to insist that masks do no good, the spread of the virus began to decline within weeks of Pima County’s mask mandate, as more people began wearing them in public, although the level of new cases has creeped back up in recent weeks with the return of UA students. For the week ending Aug. 29, 569 new cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 5, a total of 861 cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 12, 1,103 cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 19, 1,203 cases were reported. (Recent weeks are subject to revision.)

Deaths in Pima County are down from a peak of 55 in the week ending July 4 to 19 for the week ending Aug. 15, 13 in the week ending Aug. 22, 10 in the week ending Aug. 29, zero in the week ending Sept. 5, and two in the week ending Sept. 12. (Recent weeks are subject to revision.)

Hospitalization peaked the week ending July 18 with 234 COVID patients admitted to Pima County hospitals. In the week ending Aug. 29, 37 COVID patients were admitted to Pima County hospitals; in the week ending Sept. 5, 25 patients were admitted to Pima County hospitals; in the week ending Sept. 12, 19 patients were admitted; and in the week ending Sept. 19, 14 patients were admitted. (Numbers are subject to revision.)

UA sees a decline in cases, lifts stay-at-home order for students

Although the number of positive coronavirus cases on campus is trending downward, the University of Arizona will again delay phase 2 of its reentry plan and remain open only for in-person instruction of essential courses through the week of Oct. 5, UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins said in a news conference yesterday.

According to the university’s data, on Friday, Sept. 25, UA had a COVID-19 positivity rate of 3.4 percent, with 36 new positive cases out of 1,051 new tests.

This is a significant improvement from a week prior, on Friday, Sept. 18, which saw a 6.4 percent positivity rate and evidence of off-campus gatherings lacking safety precautions against COVID-19.

“We certainly like to see it down under 5 percent, so well done everyone,” Robbins said. “I’m pleased to report that our outreach and enforcement initiatives are having a very positive effect on compliance with public health guidelines.”

The university had 252 students in isolation housing as of Friday evening, with 348 isolation beds available and 43 dorm students isolating off-campus.

According to Robbins, around 5,200 students are attending in-person classes with strict guidelines in place for social distancing, use of protective gear and frequent sanitation. He says cases are not being transmitted in the classroom, but rather, “in off-campus large gatherings.”

The university has a staged plan for reopening but still remains in phase one of the plan, which allows students to attend essential in-person classes only.

Robbins recognized some students’ and faculty’s desire to slowly integrate to more in-person learning, noting it may help improve mental health amid isolating conditions. However, he said the university is not yet ready to move into the next stage of reopening the university.

Robbins says the university is seeing fewer off-campus gatherings and calls regarding public health violations—an important step in quelling the transmission of the virus.

The university responded to 13 properties for violations throughout Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, which Robbins said is four fewer than the week prior.

The previous week, the university issued three university-related red tags, 10 citations and 13 code of conduct referrals to the dean of students. Last weekend, 10 red tags, 19 citations and 25 code of conduct violations were issued.

“This is not a time to become complacent, however,” Robbins warned. “I continue to see groups of students around University Boulevard and elsewhere without face coverings. I beg you, please listen and follow the guidelines.”

Robbins also announced the university’s voluntary 14-day self-quarantine program, in which students were asked to stay home and avoid unnecessary trips, will end tomorrow, Sept. 29.

“We believe there has been a significant positive impact. If case numbers begin to rise again, there may be a need to reinstate this self-imposed quarantine, but if the cases skyrocket again, then working with the county health department, more legal quarantine issues may need to be enacted,” Robbins said.

Get a Flu Shot

The Arizona Department of Health Services is implementing an aggressive plan of action during this flu season by distributing free flu shots vaccination to all Arizonans through doctor’s offices, pharmacies, local health departments and community healthcare centers statewide.

The overlap with COVID produces greater challenges than a typical flu season and preventing the flu is more important than ever. More than 4,000 people were hospitalized with flu symptoms in Arizona last year and roughly 700 people die from the illness each year, according to state health officials.

The state will reimburse Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System providers offering free flu shots to AHCCCS members, while giving AHCCCS members a $10 gift card for their troubles after they've been vaccinated.

Get tested: Pima County has several testing centers, UA offering antibody testing

Pima County has three free testing centers with easy-to-schedule appointments—often with same-day availability—with results in 24 to 72 hours.

You’ll have a nasal swab test at the Kino Event Center, 2805 E. Ajo Way, and the Udall Center, 7200 E. Tanque Verde Road. The center at the northside Ellie Towne Flowing Wells Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road, involves a saliva test designed by ASU.

Schedule an appointment at pima.gov/covid19testing.

The centers are also tied into Pima County’s developing contact tracing operation, which aims to be able to identify potential clusters and warn people if they have been in contact with someone who is COVID-positive.

The University of Arizona’s antibody testing has been opened to all Arizonans as the state attempts to get a handle on how many people have been exposed to COVID-19 but were asymptomatic or otherwise did not get a test while they were ill.

To sign up for testing, visit https://covid19antibodytesting.arizona.edu/home.

—with additional reporting from Nicole Ludden, Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner and Mike Truelsen

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