Monday, February 1, 2021
The University of Arizona has delivered 5,810 COVID-19 vaccines after opening as one of Pima County’s five points of distribution, according to the university's President Dr. Robert C. Robbins.
The POD is targeted toward educators and childcare providers, and Robbins estimates it can deliver 800 shots per day this week while it’s open Monday through Saturday.
The university has two vaccination sites: a drive-through location at the University of Arizona Mall and a walk-through clinic at the Ina E. Gittings building.
As cases could transmit even faster with the arrival of more contagious coronavirus variants from the UK, South Africa and Brazil in the U.S., Robbins said becoming vaccinated is even more crucial.
The UK variant has been identified in Arizona after at least three test samples came back positive for it, the Arizona Department of Health Services announced Friday.
“We're seeing problematic variants circulate, and the longer the pandemic continues, the more we will have new variants with clinically significant mutations,” he said. “The vaccine will help us reach herd immunity more quickly and have less illness and certainly less mortality in our population.”
While serving as a vaccination POD, the university will continue in stage one of its reentry plan with in-person instruction for essential courses only at least through the week of Feb. 8, Robbins said. Stage two of the reentry plan involves up to 50 students attending classes in person.
The return to more in-person instruction is based on data tracking the spread of COVID-19 across the state.
While COVID-19 cases in Arizona have decreased for the second week in a row, Robbins emphasized the state still remains number one for transmissibility in the nation.
While the seven-day rolling average for COVID-19 cases is at 45 per 100,000 of the population nationwide, Arizona is experiencing 75 cases per 100,000 people, while Pima County is at 66 cases per 100,000, Robbins shared.
“I hope that we'll be able to move to phase two within a couple of weeks, but I don't think right now is the time to do it,” Robbins said. “Let's get the numbers going down, get the curve back to where we had it when we were the lowest in the nation, and then I think we can move forward.”
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.
From Jan. 22-31, UA administered 15,526 COVID-19 tests and found 200 positive cases for a positivity rating of 1.3%, down from last week’s percent positivity of 2%.
According to Robbins, 50 students were in isolation dorm beds as of Jan. 29 with 92% of beds still available.
The university’s CART team, a collaboration with the UA and Tucson police departments that looks for noncompliance to COVID-19 precautions, found 10 total incidents the week of Jan. 25. They responded to five events with under 20 attendees, one event with 20-49 people and one event with more than 100.
“These are super spreader events. It only takes one person there over a couple of hours at a party, and then those 50 or 100 people go out and they spread to somebody else,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, the reentry task force director and former U.S. surgeon general. “It's very, very important that you stay within your own social group...and stay in that tight circle as much as you can, because that prevents transmission.”