Monday, January 25, 2021
The University of Arizona is Pima County’s vaccine distribution point for educators, and according to the university's President Dr. Robert C. Robbins, it delivered 1,296 doses through Friday, Jan. 22.
On Friday, 150 individuals were vaccinated at the university’s drive-thru location, and 198 at its walk-up location, according to Robbins.
On Monday, Robbins said university officials project delivering 800 vaccines—400 at its drive-thru site and 400 at its walk-up location. They expect to deliver the same amount Tuesday.
Robbins said less than one-third of the vaccine the university receives will be allocated to its own staff.
However, the UA president noted there’s a huge difference between vaccine supply and the demand for it.
This week, Pima County is expecting 29,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, a far cry from the state allocation it needs to vaccinate those eligible in its current phase 1B priority of vaccine rollout. The eligible group is estimated to include 150,000 educators, protective service workers and individuals over 75.
“Per population, we're getting about 28,000 doses a week. Based on the demand we have here, we could deliver between (50,000) to 75,000 visits a week,” Robbins said. “So everyone, please be patient with us. We're trying our best, the county is absolutely doing the best they can.”
Even with some receiving the coronavirus vaccine, he said “We can't vaccinate our way out” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Robbins, although other COVID-19 indicators like hospitalizations have dropped, Pima County is still seeing about 1,100 cases every day.
Arizona still has the highest transmission rate of the virus in the country, with 95 cases per 100,000 of the population, according to CDC data.
Given the alarming numbers, the university will continue stage one of its reentry plan with in-person instruction for only essential courses at least through the week of Feb. 1, Robbins said.
The spread of COVID-19 on campus
From Jan. 15 through 24, UA administered 10,480 COVID-19 tests and found 206 positive cases for a positivity rating of 2%.
“We can't be complacent just because the numbers are looking fairly reasonable, we're below the threshold of 5%,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, the reentry task force director and former U.S. surgeon general. “We still have a pandemic that's raging in our community, and we are number one in the country. Every single one of us needs to comply because we're all inextricably tied together.”
As of Friday, 40 students were in isolation dorm beds with 556 of the 596 isolation beds available.
This semester, on-campus dorm students are required to take two COVID-19 tests a week with at least 48 hours between tests. Students will take the new PCR saline gargle test developed by Michael Worobey, the head of UA’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Last week, the university brought back its CART team, a collaboration with the UA and Tucson police departments that looks for noncompliance to COVID-19 precautions. The week of Jan. 18, they responded to seven incidents of noncompliance, including three events with 50-99 attendees.
“That is dangerous. Each one of those people are potential spreaders in a super spreader event,” Carmona said. “We don't know, 40% of people or more are asymptomatic. We cannot allow this to happen.”
The incidents are discussed with the dean of students, and Carmona said appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.
“Please do all you can to listen to what the president has said and what we ask you to do every single day so that we can continue to keep our university open, and maybe even start moving into more in-person education in the future,” Carmona said. “But we're going to do that based on the best data we get from our public health advisory team, and we're not going to take any chances.”
Those who qualify in the priority 1B group can register for a vaccine at www.pima.gov/covid19vaccineregistration or by calling 520-222-0119.