The Pima County Health Department will be giving out free, take-home COVID tests.
The kits will be handed out on Saturday, Oct. 30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Abrams Public Health Center, 3950 S. Country Club Road in the lobby of the Abrams building.
Each box contains two antigen self-tests that deliver results in 15 minutes.
These rapid antigen tests look for COVID-19 antigens, or small pieces of protein, in your respiratory tract. These tests are not sufficient for international travel or other organizations that require PCR/NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test) results.
To find free COVID-19 testing centers from Pima County, go to www.pima.gov/covid19testing.
For more information on the BinaxNOW self-tests, including how to report results and to watch instructional videos in English and Spanish, visit pima.gov/covid19hometest.
WASHINGTON — The next wave of the massive COVID-19 vaccination campaign could begin as soon as next week, after federal regulators decide if elementary school students across the U.S. should begin rolling up their tiny sleeves.
That multistep approval process kicks off Tuesday, when the Food & Drug Administration’s panel of vaccine experts will vote on whether the benefits of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks for kids ages 5 to 11.
If the panel and top FDA officials grant an emergency authorization for vaccinating that age group, then the next step lies with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A CDC panel would meet on Nov. 2 and 3 to craft additional guidance on how the shot would be used.
For parents with children in that age group, that could mean a vaccination appointment for their child as soon as Nov. 4. The Biden administration has said there will be 15 million doses ready to ship as soon as the FDA gives the green light.
In recognition of the difficulty parents may have deciding whether to obtain a vaccine, the administration also is taking care to connect parents with trusted providers like pediatricians. “These are our babies, and they still feel like a baby when they’re that age and that size,” said Amy Wimpey Knight, president of the Children’s Hospital Association.
The Pima County Health Department is now offering all three types of COVID-19 boosters to eligible individuals at its health clinics, vaccination PODs and mobile clinics.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Oct. 21 approved the boosters after previously authorizing the Pfizer booster. The CDC is also allowing people to choose which booster they receive.
If you completed two doses of Pfizer or Moderna at least six months ago, you are eligible for a booster if you are:
If you initially received a J&J shot, boosters of any vaccine type are recommended for those 18 and older and who were vaccinated at least two months ago.
Find a complete list of Pima County health clinics and mobile sites, with days and hours of operation, at www.pima.gov/covid19vaccine. The vaccine is free, and no ID is required at County sites.
Associate Professor Deepta Bhattacharya joined the University of Arizona status update on Monday, Oct 19, to highlight new vaccine research and discuss the controversial debate over booster shots.
Before the delta variant mutated from the original COVID-19, the coronavirus mRNA Pfizer and Moderna vaccines had extremely high efficacy. Bhattacharya said the vaccines made people 20 times less likely to get infected than unvaccinated individuals. Delta lowered vaccine efficacy to where vaccinated individuals are now two to five times less likely to get COVID.
According to Bhattacharya, this is due to the delta’s high transmissibility. The delta variant is two to three times more transmissible than the original virus. Bhattacharya warned delta has completely changed the game for the unvaccinated.
“A year ago you might imagine that there were some scenarios if you’re careful if you mask, if you stay away from other people, you might be able to avoid the virus even if you hadn’t been vaccinated,” Bhattacharya said. “I don’t think with the transmissibility of delta as it is right now that is very likely, eventually, the virus will get you if you are not vaccinated.”
Pima County is still considered to be a highly transmissible area, according to the Pima County Health Department. Dr. Joe Gerald from the University of Arizona reported in his weekly COVID-19 update that as of Oct 3, the highest cases of infection are coming from the 15 to 24 age group. The lowest COVID cases are coming from the age group of 65 and older. This group has the highest rate of vaccination.
New research is showing the vaccines are reducing transmission of the virus, including the delta variant. Bhattacharya said a contact tracing study revealed vaccinated individuals are two-thirds less likely than an unvaccinated person to transmit the virus to someone else.
WASHINGTON – Fully vaccinated non-essential travelers will be allowed to cross the U.S. border from Mexico starting in November, ending nearly 20 months of pandemic restrictions that were choking businesses in border communities.
No specific date was given for when the restrictions will be lifted, but the long-awaited announcement was welcomed by area officials, who have been repeatedly disappointed in their hopes that nonessential travel would be allowed to resume.
“It’s a great start and we’re really elated to be able to have friends, be able to return back to visit us here in business, and throughout the state of Arizona,” Douglas Mayor Donald C. Huish said Wednesday.
He was particularly pleased that the new rule would take effect in time for people to cross the border for holiday shopping and visiting.
The new rule, announced Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security, will allow nonessential travelers to cross at land borders from Mexico and Canada if they have proof of vaccination, reversing a ban on nonessential travel from those countries that began in March 2020.
Essential travelers, like commercial truckers, health care workers and others, have been allowed to cross the border during the pandemic. But they will also need to produce proof of vaccination beginning in January if they wish to continue crossing, under the new policy.
TEMPE – It all started over a bowl of “medicinal menudo,” a term political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz coined as part of a running joke.
Several years ago, during a convention at Harvard University, social scientist Gilberto Lopez took Alcaraz to a spot that served the Mexican beef tripe soup. Thankful for the meal – and the dish’s reputed abilities to alleviate hangovers – Alcaraz told Lopez, “I owe you my life.”
The menudo forged a bond between Lopez and Alcaraz, who has consulted on popular TV shows and films and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2020 and 2021. During the pandemic, Lopez invited Alcaraz to collaborate on a Hispanic-focused education campaign about COVID-19 prevention and vaccinations.
Lopez, an assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School of Transborder Studies, launched the COVID Latino project with the goal of using art and social media to disseminate information – and counter misinformation – about COVID-19 throughout the Southwest.
The effort brings together experts from Arizona and California’s Central Valley, home to many Hispanic farmworkers, and provides culturally relevant campaigns by way of the internet and social media.
The project so far has included animated public service announcements in Spanish and neighborhood murals to better connect with the hard-hit Latino population.
Lopez said the project stemmed from his frustration over the type of information being circulated in rural, Hispanic communities – “very technical, very jargony information.” Through the collaboration with artists, Lopez said, the resulting pieces are easier to share online and will help make the topic more digestible.
“Humans are storytellers,” Lopez said, “and we’re telling stories in a way people understand.”
The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 on Tuesday against mask requirements for K-12 schools in Pima County.
Supervisor Matt Heinz presented the proposal for masks in schools in response to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Pima County.
Pima County recently co-authored a study with the CDC that found K-12 schools without mask requirements in Pima and Maricopa counties were 3.5 times more likely to have a COVID outbreak than schools with mask mandates.
“In light of the information that literally came from this county and Maricopa County in Arizona and the CDC,” Heinz said, “I think it makes a lot of sense for us to take a look at this again.”
Heinz reiterated his view that masks protect students and teachers from COVID and that data supported his opinion.
Dr. Francisco Garcia, Pima County's chief medical officer, was asked to discuss the potential mandate with all 12 school district superintendents in Pima County. He presented their feedback during the board's regular meeting.