Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Wednesday, Feb. 10: TUSD tentatively planning a March 22 return to on-campus instruction; Pima County has vaccinated about 15% of population; State’s death toll rises by 176

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2021 at 8:43 AM

With 1,977 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 789,000 as of Wednesday, Feb. 10, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 685 new cases today, has seen 105,829 of the state’s 789,245 confirmed cases.

With 176 new deaths reported today, a total number of 14,462 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 1,981 deaths in Pima County, according to the Feb. 10 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases statewide has declined in recent weeks, with 2,589 coronavirus patients in the hospital as of Feb. 9. That number peaked at 5,082 on Jan. 11. The summer peak was 3,517, which was set on July 13, 2020. The subsequent lowest number of hospitalized COVID patients was 468, set on Sept. 27, 2020.

A total of 1,489 people visited emergency rooms on Feb. 9 with COVID symptoms, down from the record high of 2,341 set on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. That number had peaked during the summer wave at 2,008 on July 7, 2020; it hit a subsequent low of 653 on Sept. 28, 2020.

A total of 763 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Feb. 9, down from a peak of 1,183 set on Jan. 11. The summer’s record number of patients in ICU beds was 970, set on July 13, 2020. The subsequent low was 114 on Sept. 22, 2020.

How to get a vaccine

Currently, Pima County is providing vaccination shots to people 70 and older as well as educators, first responders and healthcare workers. Those who currently qualify in Pima County’s 1B priority group of eligible vaccine recipients can register for a vaccine at www.pima.gov/covid19vaccineregistration or by calling 520-222-0119.

TUSD sets March 22 as return to campus

Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo told the TUSD Governing Board tonight that he hoped to return to some form of in-class instruction on March 22.

Under a previous board vote, Trujillo was given the authority to decide when TUSD would return to in-class instruction. The district has previously set opening dates only to delay them and has been in remote-only instruction since March of last year.

Trujillo told board members he would be able to flesh out his plan for instruction and COVID mitigation once parents at different schools filled out their educational preferences and he had a better sense of how many students would be back in the traditional classroom and how many would prefer to continue with remote learning for the remainder of the school year.

Pima County has vaccinated about 15% of population

About 15% of Pima County’s population has received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine since the rollout began in mid-December.

As of today, the county has administered a total 160,113 shots out of the 189,725 vaccine doses it had received from the state. The county has used 84% of its total state allocation, according to Arizona Department of Health Services data.

A total of 30,411 Pima County residents have received the two doses needed to be considered fully immunized, while 129,363 have received at least one dose.

While they've made significant progress, Pima County’s vaccine allocation was cut down to 17,800 this week—a 39% decrease from the 29,000 doses provided the week before.

Dr. Francisco Garcia, the county’s chief medical officer, said to accommodate the loss, the health department cut back doses given to some community health centers and downscaled vaccine allocation to the county’s five PODs, or points of distribution.

“We've advocated for [vaccine doses] to be higher than they were this week. Certainly, that is going to be a recurring topic of conversation with our friends at the state,” Garcia said.

The county has given vaccines to community health centers like Marana Health Clinics, El Rio and Desert Senita to reach the more rural parts of the county.

Over the weekend, Garcia said the county set up a “pop-up clinic” at St. John's Catholic Church and provided over 500 vaccines for those 70 and older. The medical officer said the county plans on continuing to set up pop-up sites to reach the less privileged parts of the community who need the vaccine the most.

“One of the things that we have been trying to do is pop up vaccination in the same way that we did pop up testing previously. That is, identifying census tracts within our community where we know the burden of disease is high, the risk of infectivity is high and where economic opportunity is relatively low,” Garcia said. “We want to continue to do stuff like that, but we can only do stuff like that when we have sufficient vaccine in our hands to be able to distribute.”

Other available vaccination sites include six retail pharmacy locations around the county. The grocery-store based sites are run by state and federal government contractors, so the county has no control over their operations or who is prioritized to receive a vaccine first.

Garcia said Fry’s has delivered 666 vaccines while Safeway has delivered 274 in the two weeks the retail pharmacy program has operated.

More details here.

Vaccine available now in Marana and Oro Valley area

MHC Healthcare is currently scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments for those older than 75 in the Marana and Oro Valley areas.

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, appointments will take place at MHC Healthcare Marana Main Health Center at 13395 N. Marana Main St.

Vaccinations will take place every Thursday at the James D. Kriegh Park at 23 W Calle Concordia in Oro Valley.

Appointments will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and residents of Oro Valley, Marana, Dove Mountain, Catalina, Avra Valley, Picture Rocks and Summer Haven can register at mhchealthcare.org.

Vaccinations at both locations will be administered in a drive-thru setting using the Moderna vaccine.

As of last Monday, MHC had received 2,300 vaccines from the Pima County Health Department and administered 1,714.

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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