Thursday, December 31, 2020

Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Thursday, Dec. 31: 7,700+ new cases, 146 deaths; 1 of every 1000 Pima County residents dead from virus; Hospitals facing overload; Pima County under curfew; The vaccine is here

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2020 at 8:59 AM

With more than 7,718 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases now stands higher than 520,000 as of Thursday, Dec. 31, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 1,085 new cases today, has seen 69,522 of the state’s 520,207 confirmed cases.

A total of 8,864 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 1,064 deaths in Pima County, according to the Dec. 31 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases statewide continues to soar as the virus has begun to spread more rapidly, putting stress on Arizona’s hospitals and surpassing July peaks. ADHS reported that as of Dec. 30, 4,564 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. The summer peak of 3,517 hospitalized COVID patients was set on July 13; that number hit a subsequent low of 468 on Sept. 27.

A total of 2,304 people visited emergency rooms on Dec. 30 with COVID symptoms. That number is down slightly from yesterday's 2020 peak of 2,341.

A total of 1,028 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Dec. 30, down from yesterday's peak of 1,076. The low was 114 on Sept. 22.

One out of every 1,000 Pima County residents has died from COVID-19; Hospitals overwhelmed

Pima County Public Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen shared troubling details on the accelerated transmission of COVID-19 throughout the county amid a new public health advisory at a virtual press conference Wednesday.



Public health officials expect to see more coronavirus cases in December than the eight months between March and October combined.

Currently, one out of every 1,000 Pima County residents has died from COVID-19.

Amid confirmation of a more contagious strain of COVID-19 that originated in the UK being identified in Colorado, Cullen said Arizona health officials are actively looking for the coronavirus variant and have not found any cases in the state, although “that could change quite rapidly,” she said.

Cullen said the county’s hospital beds and ICU capacity remains “very limited,” and many facilities are relying on the Arizona Surge Line to transfer patients based on their necessary level of care.

As the virus continues to spread throughout the state, as of Dec. 29 more than 10,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the county through Banner, TMC and other health care facilities, according to the advisory. Cullen said nearly 1,000 individuals are being vaccinated every day. More details here.

Pima County under curfew

Pima County remains under a mandatory 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in an attempt to combat Southern Arizona's rising number of coronavirus cases.

Penalties for a nonessential business found violating curfew range from having their business permit suspended or revoked.

The mandatory curfew will stay in place until coronavirus infection rates drop below 100 per 100,000 people, according to county officials.

While businesses will now face losing their operating permits if they don't comply with the curfew, it "carries no penalty associated with the individual, as it would be difficult to enforce a curfew against individuals without the cooperation of law enforcement," Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry wrote in the memo regarding the memo. More details here.

Get tested: Pima County has 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 these or other pop-up sites 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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