Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Tuesday, Nov. 24: More Than 4500 New Cases Today; Total Cases in AZ Nearing 307K; UA Basketball Home Opener Canceled; Free Test Centers Open

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2020 at 9:31 AM

With more than 4,500 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases closed in on 307,000 as of Tuesday, Nov. 24, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which r

eported 327 new cases today, has seen 36,986 of the state’s 306,868 confirmed cases.

With 51 new deaths reported yesterday, a total of 6,515 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 679 deaths in Pima County, according to the Nov. 24 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases statewide continues to climb as the virus has begun to spread more rapidly, putting stress on Arizona’s hospitals. ADHS reported that as of Nov. 23, 2,084 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state, the highest that number has been since Aug. 1. 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 1,372 people visited emergency rooms on Nov. 23 with COVID symptoms. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7; it hit a subsequent low of 653 on Sept. 28.

click to enlarge The number of Arizonans in ICU beds continue to climb. - AZDHS
The number of Arizonans in ICU beds continue to climb.

A total of 474 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Nov. 23, the highest that number has been since Aug. 12. 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. 23 report from the Pima County Health Department. (Numbers in this report are subject to revision.)

Pima County is seeing a dramatic rise in cases in recent weeks. For the week ending Oct. 31, 1,348 cases were reported; for the week ending Nov. 7, 2,122 cases were reported; and for the week ending Nov. 14, 2,561 cases were reported; and for the week ending Nov. 21, 2,575 cases were reported.

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry noted last week 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,” Huckleberry 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, six in the week ending Oct. 24; 10 in the week ending Oct. 31 and five in the week ending Nov. 7.

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. 24, 43 people were admitted; in the week ending Oct. 31, 67 people were admitted; in the week ending Nov. 7, 90 people were admitted; and in the week ending Nov. 14, 126 people were admitted.

UA men’s basketball team cancels season opener

The University of Arizona announced yesterday that the UA men’s basketball team home opener, scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 25, had to b canceled after a person in the NAU basketball program tested positive for COVID.

The teams will work to reschedule the game, according to a press release from the Athletics Department.

UA’s next game, against Grambling State, is scheduled at 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27, at McKale Center.

UA will return to remote classes after fall break

In its final week of in-person instruction for the fall semester, the University of Arizona is reporting slightly elevated COVID-19 case numbers as it finishes its pre-fall break testing blitz this week, UA President Robert C. Robbins shared in a news conference Monday, Nov. 23.

From Nov. 12 through Nov. 21, UA found 126 positive coronavirus cases after administering 11,504 tests for a positivity rate of 1.1%, an increase from the 0.9% positivity rate the university reported the previous 10-day period.

On Nov. 9, the university began its "testing blitz" to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as travel is likely to increase over the holiday season. Testing will end on Nov. 25, and students have been asked to register for an appointment-only test after completing a survey with their traveling plans.

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.

“Case numbers are rising here in Arizona and nationwide. I strongly encourage everyone to exercise extreme caution over this break. This means don’t travel. If you don’t have to, don’t do it.” Robbins said. “If you do travel, including going home from your student residence, quarantine after arrival.”

All students will complete the semester remotely when classes resume Nov. 30. In January, the university plans to return to stage two of its reentry plan with up to 50 students attending classes in person.

However, Robbins said if the current surge in COVID-19 cases continues over winter break, “we’re gonna have to go back and start all over like we did with this term.”

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

Pima County offers a number of 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.

In addition, the Pima County Health Department, Pima Community College and Arizona State University have partnered to create new drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites at three Pima Community College locations. 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.

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 Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner, Nicole Ludden and Mike Truelsen

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