Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Tuesday, Oct. 27: More Than 1100 New Cases Today; Total AZ Cases Top 240K; Local Schools See a Handful of COVID Cases; UA Cases Remain Low; Free Testing Available

Posted By on Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 9:35 AM

With 1,157 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 240,000 as of Tuesday, Oct. 27, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Over the last week, the state has seen, on average, more than 1,000 new cases a day.

Pima County had seen 27,703 of the state’s 240,122 confirmed cases.

With 16 new deaths reported yesterday, a total of 5,891 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 636 deaths in Pima County, according to the Oct. 27 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases has declined from July peaks but has ticked upward in recent weeks as the virus has begun to spread more rapidly. ADHS reported that as of Oct. 26, 861 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. That number peaked with 3,517 hospitalized COVID patients on July 13.

A total of 784 people visited emergency rooms on Oct. 26 with COVID symptoms. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7.

A total of 187 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Oct. 26. The number of COVID patients in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13.

Although President Donald Trump said the “big spike” in Arizona cases was now “gone” during last week’s final presidential debate, Arizona Department of Health Director Cara Christ noted on her blog last week that cases in the state were on the increase.

Christ wrote that while Arizona has not seen as big a surge as other states, “we have recently seen a shift of COVID-19 spread in the wrong direction.”

Christ noted that the statewide positivity results from tests has climbed from 3.9 percent to 5.5 percent in recent weeks.

Christ urged Arizonans to wear masks but noted the numbers across the state still indicated “moderate” spread of the coronavirus and hospitals are not reporting a surge of patients.

On a week-by-week basis in Pima County, the number of positive COVID tests peaked the week ending July 4 with 2,452 cases, according to an Oct. 21 report from the Pima County Health Department.

After a bump following the return of UA students, cases on a week-to-week basis declined but have hit a plateau. For the week ending Sept. 19, 1,221 cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 26, 599 cases were reported; for the week ending Oct. 3, 526 cases were reported; for the week ending Oct. 10, 462 cases were reported; and for the week ending Oct. 17, 501 cases were reported.

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, one in the week ending Sept. 12, four in the week ending Sept. 19, four in the week ending Sept. 26 and one in the week ending Oct. 3.

Hospitalization peaked the week ending July 18 with 221 COVID patients admitted to Pima County hospitals, but it has been on the rise in recent weeks. In the week ending Sept. 12, 24 patients were admitted; in the week ending Sept. 19, 17 patients were admitted; in the week ending Sept. 26, 15 people were admitted; in the week ending Oct. 3, 20 patients were admitted; in the week ending Oct. 10, 27 people were admitted; and the week ending Oct. 17, 33 people were admitted. (Recent weeks are subject to revision.)

School districts see a handful of COVID cases

As local school districts allow students to return to campus in hybrid learning models, they’re reporting positive COVID-19 cases among students and staff, resulting in some students and staff members being asked to quarantine themselves if they were in contact with people who have tested positive.

As of Monday, Marana Unified School District has reported five positive COVID-19 cases with 24 students and staff in quarantine since they reopened in a hybrid model Oct. 19, according to Alli Benjamin, the district’s public relations and community engagement director.

At Mountain View High School, four students tested positive for coronavirus, causing 23 students and employees who were potentially exposed to quarantine. One case was confirmed yesterday, and the other three on Oct. 22, 23 and 24, according to Benjamin.

One student was reported as testing positive at Marana Middle School on Oct. 21, but no potential contacts were established, according to Benjamin.

As of Friday, the Amphitheater Unified School District has reported five positive coronavirus cases resulting in 35 students and staff members quarantining, according to Communications Director Michelle Valenzuela.

Amphitheater reopened in a hybrid model on Oct. 12, and its latest positive COVID-19 case was reported at Walker Elementary School on Friday. One student tested positive, causing two employees to quarantine.

On Oct. 20, one student at La Cima Middle School reported a positive coronavirus test. Although no close contacts to the person were discovered inside the school, three La Clima students who were with the student over the weekend were asked to quarantine themselves.

One student at Canyon del Oro High School reported a positive test Oct. 19, causing 13 students who may have been in contact with the person to self-quarantine.

The week prior, 13 students and one staff member at Ironwood Ridge High School had to quarantine after a student reported a positive test on Oct. 16.

At Mesa Verde Elementary, one staff member reported a positive case on Oct. 14, but no other employees or students were identified as close contacts to require quarantining.

The 10,100 Amphitheater students who opted for hybrid classes attend two days a week and spend the other three learning remotely. About 1,400 students chose to continue attending school completely online.

UA cases remain low, classes on track to continue

The University of Arizona will allow classes of 50 or fewer students to return to campus this week as it continues phase 2 of its reopening plan, UA President Robert C. Robbins said in a news conference Monday, Oct. 26.

Robbins says the university anticipates remaining in this phase until fall break on Nov. 26.

From Oct. 16-25, UA found 35 positive coronavirus cases after administering 6,248 tests for a positivity rate of 0.6%, the same rate the university reported last week.

Of all the tests the university has administered since Aug. 4, they have a 4.3% total positivity rating.

Pima County Health Department Director Theresa Cullen says although the area code surrounding the university isn’t “lighting up” with positive COVID-19 cases, today, the county has a seven-day rolling average of 88 cases a day, up from 59 last week.

“Once the students leave, we’re still gonna be here dealing with what’s going on in the pandemic. So the response of the university is critical,” Pima County Health Department Director Theresa Cullen said.

In preparation for fall break, all main campus students are required to complete a survey with their traveling plans. After completing the survey, students will be directed to a website to register for the university’s appointment-only “testing blitz” from Nov. 9-15.

Robbins said students will be tested “as close to the time as [they’re] going to travel as possible.”

“The more we can keep the disease down now, the more we get through the holidays with low transmissibility...the easier it is to open in spring and open in a more advanced fashion,” Reentry Task Force Director Richard Carmona said.

If students travel outside the Tucson area over fall break, the university is asking them to complete the semester outside the area or remotely online. Those who don’t travel can complete the semester from their student residences.

During the past week, the university’s CART team, a collaboration with the UA and Tucson police departments that looks for noncompliance to COVID-19 precautions, responded to 12 incidents. One event had over 100 attendees.

“These reports are gonna continue, we’ll continue working with the Dean of Students to discipline those who require discipline, to include expulsion sometimes, if they don’t listen,
Carmona said. “It’s not only about them, it’s about them putting the community at risk for spreading disease.”

Get tested: Pima County offers free COVID testing, UA offering antibody testing

The Pima County Health Department has four free testing centers around town 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) the Udall Center (7200 E. Tanque Verde Road) and downtown (88 E. Broadway). 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 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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