Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Wednesday, Nov. 18: More than 3200 New Cases Today; AZ Total Number of Confirmed Cases Tops 283K; Huckelberry Warns Pima County On Track for Worst Month of COVID Spread Yet; Free Test Centers Open

Posted By on Wed, Nov 18, 2020 at 9:22 AM

With more than 3,200 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases soared past 283,000 as of Wednesday, Nov. 18, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 378 new cases today, has seen 33,822 of the state’s 283,102 confirmed cases.

With 53 new deaths reported today, a total of 6,365 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 674 deaths in Pima County, according to the Nov. 18 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases statewide continues to climb upward as the virus has begun to spread more rapidly. ADHS reported that as of Nov. 17, 1,700 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state, the highest that number has been since Aug. 6. That number peaked with 3,517 hospitalized COVID patients on July 13; it hit a subsequent low of 468 on Sept. 27.

A total of 1,288 people visited emergency rooms on Nov. 17 with COVID symptoms, the highest that number has been since July 29. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7; it hit a subsequent low of 653 on Sept. 28.

A total of 396 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Nov. 17, the highest that number has been since Aug. 18. The number of COVID patients in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13 and hit a subsequent low of 114 on Sept. 22.

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 Nov. 12 report from the Pima County Health Department. (Numbers in this report are subject to revision.)

Pima County is seeing a steady rise in cases in recent weeks. For the week ending Oct. 17, 547 cases were reported; for the week ending Oct. 24, 914 cases were reported; for the week ending Oct. 31, 1,304 cases were reported; and for the week ending Nov. 7, 1,948 cases were reported.

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry noted that the county had seen 4,620 cases in the first 17 days in November.

“For the first 17 days in July, the worst month of COVID-19 case increases to date, there were 5,057 cases,” Huckelberry said in a Nov. 17 memo. “Therefore, we are on pace to exceed the total number of monthly COVID-19 infections in our previous worst month, July.”

COVID-related deaths in Pima County are down from a peak of 54 in the week ending July 4 but are on the rise. There were three deaths in the week ending Oct 10, one in week ending Oct. 17, five in the week ending Oct. 24 and nine in the week ending Oct. 31.

Hospitalization admission peaked the week ending July 18 with 221 COVID patients admitted to Pima County hospitals, but those numbers have been on the rise in recent weeks. In the week ending Oct. 17, 35 people were admitted; in the week ending Oct. 24, 41 people were admitted; in the week ending Oct. 31, 53 people were admitted; and in the week ending Nov. 7, 61 people were admitted.

State officials warn: Don’t let your guard down

As coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations continue to rise across the state, Arizona’s public health officials are warning of an active increase in the virus that will worsen without widespread mitigation tactics.

The statewide percent positivity for COVID-19 increased to 9% last week. A rate of 5% is a good indicator the spread of the virus is under control.

Arizona reported over 13,000 cases the week of Nov. 1, an 187% increase from the beginning of last month, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).

“Arizonans need to remain vigilant, now is not the time to let our guard down,” ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ said in a COVID-19 video update for Nov. 10. “We have seen a concerning increase in the COVID-19 rates in many counties over the past few weeks.”

According to Christ. COVID-19-like illness is also on the rise with increased inpatient and emergency room visits. She said although the state’s hospitals are reporting sufficient capacity, they’re also reporting a higher number of beds in use.

The Arizona Surge Line, a system established by ADHS in April that prevents one hospital from becoming overwhelmed by facilitating COVID-19 patient admission and transfer, is seeing increased instances of these transfers. Christ called this “an early indicator of hospital capacity concerns.”

The health director said while statewide benchmarks for businesses and schools to reopen are being met, metrics tracking case rates, percent positivity and COVID-like illness are all increasing.

Christ said the age group ranging from 20 to 44 makes up nearly 50% of the coronavirus cases in Arizona, but that these are mostly “college-age individuals.”

ADHS asks everyone to practice mitigation tactics such as frequent hand-washing, physical distancing and mask-wearing.

“We urge all Arizonans to appropriately wear a mask, whether or not they live in an area with a mandate,” Christ said in the video.

More details here.

Get tested: Pima County opening new sites alongside existing spots for free COVID testing

New drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites are opening at three Pima Community College locations, the county health department announced in a press release Friday.

The Pima County Health Department, Pima Community College and Arizona State University have partnered to create three new testing sites in an extension of the current ASU testing site at the Ellie Towne Flowing Wells Community Center.

At the drive-thru sites, COVID-19 testing will be offered through spit samples instead of nasal canal swabs.

Each site will conduct testing from 9 a.m. to noon, and registration is required in advance. Only patients 5 years or older can be tested.

“As cases rise, we are eager to increase available testing for the people of Pima County,” Pima County Public Health Director Theresa Cullen said in the press release. “If you know or suspect you have been exposed to COVID-19, we encourage you to get tested.”

The first testing site opened Monday, Nov. 16 at the Pima Community College West Campus.

Here are the three drive-thru locations that will be offering COVID-19 testing:

Pima Community College West Campus
2202 W. Anklam Road
Mondays, except national holidays and Dec. 28
Testing started: Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.

Pima Community College Desert Vista Campus
5901 S. Calle Santa Cruz
Wednesdays, except national holidays and Dec. 30
Testing starts: Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020.

Pima Community College East Campus
8181 E. Irvington Road
Fridays, except national holidays.
Testing starts: Friday, Dec. 4, 2020

The new sites will join the county’s other four free testing centers around town.

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

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

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