Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Wednesday, Feb. 24: FDA Says Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Ready for Emergency Use; Rate of New Cases Continues to Slow; Vaccine Limited but Here’s How To Set Up Appointments, COVID Tests

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2021 at 9:02 AM

With 1,310 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases closed in on 812,000 as of Wednesday, Feb. 24, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 142 new cases today, has seen 108,772 of the state’s 811,968 confirmed cases.

With 43 new deaths reported today, a total of 15,693 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 2,186 deaths in Pima County, according to the Feb. 24 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases statewide has declined in recent weeks, with 1,449 coronavirus patients in the hospital as of Feb. 23. That’s less than a third of the number hospitalized at the peak of the winter surge, which reached 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 1,208 people visited emergency rooms on Feb. 23 with COVID symptoms, a big drop 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 430 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Feb. 22, 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

While supplies are limited, Pima County is providing vaccination shots to people 65 and older as well as educators, first responders and healthcare workers. Those who qualify in Pima County’s 1B priority group of eligible vaccine recipients can register for a vaccine at or by calling 520-222-0119.

A state-run vaccination site opening at the University of Arizona began appointments last week. The new site follows the state’s current vaccine eligibility, which includes those 65 and older, educators, childcare workers and protective service workers.

The POD is expanding its hours of operation from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m seven days a week.

As the state-run POD, or point of distribution, registrations will go through ADHS’s website. Online registration will be available at, and those who need assistance can call 1-844-542-8201. More details here.

FDA says Johnson & Johnson vaccine is good to go for emergency use

The Food and Drug Administration announced his morning that the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine meets requirements for emergency use, according to CNN.

The Vaccines and related Biological Products Advisory Committee plans to meet Friday to recommend whether the vaccine should be approved for use.

COVID cases, hospitalizations continue decline

For the fifth straight week, COVID-19 conditions improved across the state.

The week ending Feb. 14 saw a 35% decrease in total COVID-19 cases across the state from the week prior, according to Dr. Joe Gerald, a University of Arizona professor who creates weekly coronavirus epidemiology reports based on Arizona Department of Health Services data.

In Pima County, cases declined 31% from the week before, Gerald said in the report.

The past four weeks have seen 5,308 COVID-19 cases the week beginning Jan. 17, 3,782 cases the week of Jan. 24, 2,473 cases the week of Jan. 31 and 1,586 cases from Feb. 7 to Feb. 13, according to the most-recent Pima County data.

Hospitalizations have also decreased in these four weeks, with 283 reported the week of Jan. 17, 242 the week of Jan. 24, 140 the week of Jan. 31 and 99 the week of Feb. 7.

In the same four-week timeframe, the county reported 173, 101, 64 and 23 coronavirus deaths respectively.

Gerald’s report says the week ending Jan. 17 remains Arizona’s deadliest at 1,011 coronavirus deaths across the state.

COVID-19 cases continue to remain above the threshold of 100 new weekly cases per 100,000 residents, which signifies elevated risk. Gerald said the week of Feb. 14 saw 158 new cases per 100,000 of the population.

As of Monday, Feb. 22, Arizona holds the 17th highest rate for transmission in the country, according to CDC data. Gerald says the state is the sixth hardest hit in terms of identified cases.

More details here.

Get tested: Pima County has free COVID testing

After the state agreed to provide additional funding to keep testing centers open through at least March 2, Pima County is continuing to offer 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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