Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Wednesday, Oct. 7: TUSD Delays the Start of In-Class Instruction until November; Total AZ Cases Top 222K

Posted By on Wed, Oct 7, 2020 at 10:14 AM

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With 604 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases closed in on 222,538 as of Wednesday, Oct. 7, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
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Pima County had seen 26,052 of the state’s 222,538 confirmed cases.

With 20 new deaths today, a total of 5,733 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 629 deaths in Pima County, according to the Oct. 7 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases continues to decline from July peaks. ADHS reported that as of Oct. 6, 681 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. While that number has creeped up by more than 100 since Sunday, it’s still far below the peak of 3,517 hospitalized COVID patients set on July 13.

A total of 728 people visited emergency rooms on Oct. 6 with COVID symptoms. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7.

A total of 147 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Oct. 6. 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 an Oct. 5 report from the Pima County Health Department. With the return of UA students, local numbers ticked upward in September but have begun to decline again. For the week ending Sept. 5, a total of 867 cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 12, 1,112 cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 19, 1,222 cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 26, 578 cases were reported; for the week ending Oct. 3, 397 cases were reported. (Recent weeks are subject to revision.)

Deaths in Pima County are down from a peak of 54 in the week ending July 4 to 10 in the week ending Sept. 5, zero in the week ending Sept. 12, two in the week ending Sept. 19, two in the week ending Sept. 26 and 1 in the week ending Oct. 3. (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, 23 patients were admitted to Pima County hospitals; in the week ending Sept. 12, 19 patients were admitted; in the week ending Sept. 19, 14 patients were admitted; and in the week ending Sept. 26, 11 people were admitted and in the week ending Oct. 3, 10 patients were admitted. (Recent weeks are subject to revision.)

TUSD delays return to in-person instruction

The Tucson Unified School District’s governing board approved a new hybrid learning model for returning to classes but delayed voting on when to implement it.

In a 4-1 vote, the board approved the new model but decided to delay voting on a return date until the next TUSD board meeting Oct. 27.

The district had previously planned on resuming a hybrid model of in-person classes with children attending classes on two days a week and working online at home three days a week on Monday, Oct. 19.

Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo asked board members to consider a new start date of Nov. 12, dependent on Pima County data tracking the spread of coronavirus in the county.

According to a survey taken by more than 20,000 parents and teachers, 56% support remote learning only, while 44% support returning to classes with a hybrid model.

“This hybrid model places education utterly last on the list of priorities,” Cheryl Watters, a teacher and parent in the district said in an email read aloud at the board meeting. “Instead of teaching, I will be disinfecting my classrooms and monitoring my students to be sure they are complying with the safety protocols. I will now be responsible for the physical health of my students. How can I focus on teaching when I carry that weight?

Vicky Saunders, an office assistant at Rincon High School, wrote, “I’m strongly in favor of moving to a hybrid model on Oct. 19, because our students are asking to return and begging to return... We have so many students struggling academically, mentally and physically.”

In order to move to the hybrid model, TUSD must meet criteria from Pima County’s COVID-19 Progress Report, which tracks local disease data, healthcare capacity and public health capacity. As of Oct. 1, eight of the nine health criteria are making “progress” or have been officially “met.”

Pima County has not met the benchmark of a two-week decline in the number of COVID-19 cases, and therefore, the district does not currently meet guidelines set out by the Pima County Health Department to return to a hybrid model.

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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