Friday, January 22, 2021

Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Friday, Jan. 21: AZ Surpasses 12K Coronavirus Deaths; 8K New Cases Today Pushes State Total Past 708K Cases; Most School Districts Delaying Return to the Classroom; Hospital Pressure Remains High

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2021 at 9:23 AM

With more than 8,000 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases surpassed 708,000 as of Friday, Jan 22, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 858 new cases today, has seen 94,697 of the state’s 708,041 confirmed cases.

A total of 12,001 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 1,571 deaths in Pima County, according to the Jan. 22 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases statewide has declined in the last week but still remains far above the peak levels of the summer’s first wave. ADHS reported that as of Jan. 21, 4,495 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, or about one-tenth of the current count.

A total of 2,007 people visited emergency rooms on Jan. 21 with COVID symptoms, down from the record high of 2,341 set on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. That number had previously peaked at 2,008 on July 7; it hit a subsequent low of 653 on Sept. 28.

A total of 1,054 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Jan. 20. The summer’s record number of patients in ICU beds was 970, set on July 13. The subsequent low was 114 on Sept. 22.

Most school districts delaying return to the classroom; Marana will resume hybrid instruction Monday

As the spread of COVID-19 in Pima County continues to reach dangerous levels, most public school districts in the Tucson area are pushing back previously set dates to resume in-person hybrid instruction.

The Arizona Department of Health Services is recommending all counties commit to virtual learning for students with online classes and some onsite support services.

ADHS made its recommendation based on three key benchmarks: cases per 100,000 individuals, percent positivity and hospital visits for COVID-like illness. All benchmarks are currently in a state of substantial transmission throughout the state.

In Pima County, ADHS data shows 8,983 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 of the population and a 12.3% positivity rate of the virus as of Jan. 21. The most recent data available on the state health department’s school benchmarks website shows hospital visits for COVID-like illnesses at 14.8% as of Jan. 3.

While most districts remain in remote learning models, Catalina Foothills has remained open for in-person learning since Oct. 26. The Marana Unified School District anticipates returning to hybrid instruction on Monday, Jan. 25.

Originally set to return to a hybrid model on Jan. 19, Amphitheater Superintendent Todd Jaeger announced in a letter to families on Jan. 4 that remote-only learning would continue until a Feb. 1.

The Flowing Wells School District has pushed its return date to hybrid learning from Jan. 19 to Feb. 1.

The Emily Meschter Early Learning Center, the district’s preschool, remains open for in-person learning with a remote option. Most students attend four half days a week, Baker said.

While Sunnyside originally planned to return to hybrid learning on Jan. 19, it will remain in remote learning until at least Jan. 31.

After the county health department recommended schools remain in virtual learning models for up to two weeks, the district’s governing board decided to delay in-person instruction until the health department announces it’s safe to return.

Tucson’s largest school district remains in a remote-only model and its governing board has yet to vote on a return date for hybrid instruction.

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

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

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