COVID-19

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Amphi School District Discussing Hybrid Reopening Tonight

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2020 at 11:45 AM

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The Amphitheater School District board will review a reopening proposal during their meeting at 6 p.m. today, Sept. 15. The proposal includes reopening school sites on Oct. 12 for a new hybrid in-person and online learning model for their K-12 students.

“The hybrid model consists of students being divided into cohorts with only certain cohorts attending school on certain days, with the other cohorts still receiving instructional services remotely at that same time, and then the cohorts reversing those modalities on alternating days,” the proposal states.

Amphi leaders had previously hoped that COVID-19 data trends would look good enough by this point to allow for a full reopening of campuses in October. But the Pima County Health Department has strongly advised against any school returning to fully traditional in-person classroom learning during the month of October.

In an email, the district stated that families and staff are concerned about the need for social distancing relative to class sizes. The administration believes their new hybrid approach will allow them to reduce in-person class sizes and safely offer an in-person learning option to families who want it.

“We recognize the need for a balance between getting students back in school and doing so safely,” the email states. “We believe our proposal does both.”

The hybrid learning model is required to follow the district’s mitigation plan, which lays out logistics of public health practices (such as handwashing and social distancing) that are intended to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in school settings.

For more information on the newest proposal, visit https://meetings.boardbook.org/Public/Organization/2065.

Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Tuesday, Sept. 15: Total Cases Surpass 209K; UA Urges Students To Self-Quarantine as Campus Cases Rise; Get a Flu Shot; County Test Sites Open

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2020 at 9:19 AM

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With 484 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases surpassed 209,000 as of Tuesday, Sept. 15, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Pima County had seen 22,643 of the state’s 209,209 confirmed cases.

A total of 5,344 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 601 deaths in Pima County, according to the Sept. 15 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases continues to decline from July peaks, but took a big jump yesterday. ADHS reported that as of Sept. 14, 550 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state, an increase of 61 people from yesterday’s count of 489. The number of hospitalized COVID patients peaked at 3,517 on July 13.

A total of 811 people visited emergency rooms on Sept. 14 with COVID symptoms, the lowest that number has been since June 4, when 725 people visited emergency rooms with symptoms. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7.

A total of 138 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Sept. 14. The number of COVID patients in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13.

On a week-by-week basis in Pima County, the number of positive COVID tests peaked the week ending July 4 with 2,396 cases, according to a Sept. 11 report from the Pima County Health Department. While a vocal minority continues to insist that masks do no good, the spread of the virus began to decline within weeks of Pima County’s mask mandate, as more people began wearing them in public, although the level of new cases has essentially plateaued in recent weeks rather than continuing to drop. For the week ending Aug. 22, the number of new cases dropped to 528; for the week ending Aug. 29, 514 new cases were reported; and for the week ending Sept. 5, a total of 527 cases were reported. (Recent weeks are subject to revision.)

Deaths in Pima County are down from a peak of 55 in the week ending July 4 to 19 for the week ending Aug. 15, 13 for the week ending Aug. 22 and nine in the week ending Aug. 29. (As above, these numbers are subject to revision as recent deaths may not have been reported.)

Hospitalization peaked the week ending July 18 with 239 COVID patients admitted to Pima County hospitals. For the week ending Aug. 29, 36 COVID patients were admitted to Pima County hospitals and in the week ending Sept. 5, 21 patients were admitted to Pima County hospitals. (Numbers are subject to revision.)

UA students asked to quarantine in their homes for two weeks

University of Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins and Pima County Public Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen yesterday announced they are recommending a 14-day quarantine for students living on and off campus within a geographical boundary they have identified as showing high transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Robbins said this is a “last ditch” effort to get students to follow public health directives before they have to take more drastic measures. Robbins gave off a frustrated tone at the press conference, saying the university is dealing with a “blatant disregard for public health measures.”

“I’m short of saying I’m mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore,” Robbins said. “This is part of being a good member of society, to take into account the health of others, not just your individual health and your individual desire to go out and party.”

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Monday, September 14, 2020

In "Last-Ditch Effort," UA and Pima County Health Department Recommend Two-Week Quarantine for Students in High-Transmissibility Area

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 12:01 PM

UA President Dr. Robert Robbins is recommending a two-week quarantine for students living on and off campus within a specific boundary. - COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
  • Courtesy University of Arizona
  • UA President Dr. Robert Robbins is recommending a two-week quarantine for students living on and off campus within a specific boundary.


University of Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins and Pima County Public Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen today announced they are recommending a 14-day quarantine for students living on and off campus within a geographical boundary they have identified as showing high transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Robbins said this is a “last ditch” effort to get students to follow public health directives before they have to take more drastic measures. Robbins gave off a frustrated tone at the press conference, saying the university is dealing with a “blatant disregard for public health measures.”

“I’m short of saying I’m mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore,” Robbins said. “This is part of being a good member of society, to take into account the health of others, not just your individual health and your individual desire to go out and party.”

High-density apartments near campus are included in the recommendation, with specific boundaries of the quarantine are expected to be released later today. Robbins said there is COVID-19 transmission happening around campus because of the “selfish behavior of a few individuals.”

Cullen said they aren’t seeing transmission as a result of classes, labs or on-campus activity, but more so off-campus social activities and parties.

The quarantine allows exceptions for students enrolled in essential in-person classes such as science labs and performance and fine arts classes. Students in the quarantine boundary are also allowed to go on essential shopping trips, appointments and work if necessary.

“There are a clear subset of individuals, primarily students, who are not following the rules,” Robbins said during a press conference. “Today, we’re going to ratchet up the warnings, the encouragement to please follow the rules.”

Cullen said that by establishing a recommended two week quarantine, they will have the potential to ensure that the increased virus transmission will go back down.

Robbins said enforcement of the recommended quarantine will be difficult, but the university has established a support system to assist students during this time and he hopes they will follow this recommendation before the condition of COVID-19 spread at UA worsens.

He said the university administration anticipated this problem once students came to campus at the beginning of the semester. He hoped the university wouldn't have to institute “more draconian measures, but we're to that point.”

Robbins said the university will have to move toward an all-digital learning model if they cannot get the situation under control.

“This is it, this is your last chance,” he said.

Cullen said the county is actively looking at other potential options besides an optional quarantine that they could legally pursue if the spread of COVID-19 around the university continues.

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Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Monday, Sept. 14: Total Cases Close in on 208K; Outbreaks Around the UA; Get a Flu Shot; County Test Sites Open

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 9:33 AM

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With 213 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases closed in on 208,000 as of Monday, Sept. 14, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

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Pima County had seen 22,511 of the state’s 207,725 confirmed cases.

A total of 5,322 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 602 deaths in Pima County, according to the Sept. 14 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases continues to decline from July peaks. ADHS reported that as of Sept. 13, 489 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state, the lowest that number has been since April 8, when 338 COVID patients were hospitalized.. That number peaked at 3,517 on July 13.

A total of 861 people visited emergency rooms on Sept. 13 with COVID symptoms. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7.

A total of 168 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Sept. 13, the lowest that number has been since April 8, when 155 COVID patients were in ICU. The number of COVID patients in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13.

On a week-by-week basis in Pima County, the number of positive COVID tests peaked the week ending July 4 with 2,396 cases, according to a Sept. 11 report from the Pima County Health Department. While a vocal minority continues to insist that masks do no good, the spread of the virus began to decline within weeks of Pima County’s mask mandate, as more people began wearing them in public, although the level of new cases has essentially plateaued in recent weeks rather than continuing to drop. For the week ending Aug. 22, the number of new cases dropped to 528; for the week ending Aug. 29, 514 new cases were reported; and for the week ending Sept. 5, a total of 527 cases were reported. (Recent weeks are subject to revision.)

Deaths in Pima County are down from a peak of 55 in the week ending July 4 to 19 for the week ending Aug. 15, 13 for the week ending Aug. 22 and nine in the week ending Aug. 29. (As above, these numbers are subject to revision as recent deaths may not have been reported.)

Hospitalization peaked the week ending July 18 with 239 COVID patients admitted to Pima County hospitals. For the week ending Aug. 29, 36 COVID patients were admitted to Pima County hospitals and in the week ending Sept. 5, 21 patients were admitted to Pima County hospitals. (Numbers are subject to revision.)

Cases spiking among UA students

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik warned yesterday that the off-campus private residential towers near Speedway and Park Avenue are a breeding ground for COVID.

The Ward 6 Democrat said that testing had shown that in HUB Tucson, 45 of 490 residents had tested positive for COVID, some of whom had tested negative through the UA’s rapid-result antigen test.

“With 490 residents living in a confined congregate setting, the likelihood is the virus is already spreading throughout the building at an alarming pace,” Kozachik warned.

Kozachik said his request that management test all residents was rejected.

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Thursday, September 10, 2020

TUSD Will Begin Hybrid Learning in October If Downward COVID-19 Trends Continue

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2020 at 10:19 AM

COURTESY TUCSON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
  • Courtesy Tucson Unified School District

Last night, the board of Tucson’s largest public school district voted to move forward with a hybrid learning model on Monday, Oct. 19, if Pima County’s downward COVID-19 data trends continue.

The Tucson Unified School District has been teaching the majority of its student body through remote learning since March, when in-person classes were canceled in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. Although new cases spiked in June and July, a steady decrease in viral transmission throughout the state has been evident in recent weeks.

According to Pima County’s COVID-19 Progress Report, five of the nine health criteria are making “progress” or have been officially “met.” The progress report tracks local disease data, healthcare capacity and public health capacity.

Because of this, TUSD Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo recommended to the board members during their Sept. 9 meeting that the district embrace the public health data indicating it is safe for a hybrid model of education. This would comprise “some kind of a combination of return to traditional in-person learning, standing alongside the online learning model that parents will still be able to opt-in to,” Trujillo said.

While some district staff and families have expressed concern over reopening schools during a global pandemic, Trujillo said the entire plan is contingent on the Pima County Health Department’s recommendation that it is safe to move to a hybrid model during the week of Oct. 19. If Coronavirus cases begin to rise again, the plan may be put on hold.

The board also agreed to begin a phased reopening of district administration departments on Monday, Sept. 21.

At the board’s next meeting on Sept. 22, Trujillo will bring forward his initial proposal with more detail on what hybrid learning will look like in TUSD.

For more information, visit govboard.tusd1.org.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

“This Is a Critical Time for the Community”: UA Expects Spike in COVID-19 Cases as Students Ignore Safety Precautions

Posted By on Wed, Sep 9, 2020 at 11:45 AM

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The University of Arizona administration took a stern tone during their Sept. 9 press conference as they indicated consequential action will be taken against students who refuse to follow the university’s rules to prevent disease transmission.

When UA began the fall semester on Aug. 24, they established a public health campaign, free COVID-19 tests, antibody tests, personal protective equipment and other infrastructure to prevent an outbreak on campus. But the administration has found that when students go off-campus, they aren’t following the rules and new COVID-19 positive cases have surfaced.

In sorority and fraternity houses, UA President Dr. Robert Robbins reported high positive percentages among residents: 10 positives of 21 residents in one house, 19 of 30 in another, and 15 of 35 in another.

Because of this transmission, Robbins said it is likely that some Greek life residents will be put on quarantine. Pima County Public Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen added that during the state’s shelter-in-place order, the positive percentage of COVID-19 tests was around 10 percent.

“When Dr. Robbins shares these percentages, they translate into positivity rates that are far beyond 10 percent,” Cullen said.

She noted that the university is quickly getting into a situation where “we will have to take an aggressive stance.” Any Greek house quarantines would be supervised and supported by the county health department.

Robbins said the university has provided support to off-campus housing management companies and the Greek community to increase awareness of COVID-19 and the proper preventative measures.

About 90 dorm students are currently in isolation units on-campus after testing positive for COVID-19. The administration’s stance is if students refuse to follow social distancing and mask rules, there will be restrictions of activity.

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Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Wednesday, Sept. 9: Special Six Months of Coronavirus Edition

Posted By on Wed, Sep 9, 2020 at 9:29 AM

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It’s been six months since March 9, when local officials including Tucson Mayor Regina Romero held a press conference, warning that the virus had arrived in Pima County.

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In that time, we’ve seen Arizona become a global hotspot for the virus, but in recent weeks, the numbers have declined as more people wear masks, avoid crowds and stay at home unless they are making an important trip.

Today’s numbers

With 496 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases reached 206,541 as of Wednesday, Sept. 9, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County had seen 22,071 confirmed cases.

A total of 5,251 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 596 deaths in Pima County, according to the Sept. 9 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases continues to decline from July peaks. ADHS reported that as of Sept. 8, 658 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. That number peaked at 3,517 on July 13.

A total of 843 people visited emergency rooms on Sept. 8 with COVID symptoms. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7.

A total of 203 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Sept. 3, the lowest that number has been since April 8, when 155 people were in ICU. The number of COVID patients in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13.

The COVID Curve

On a week-by-week basis in Pima County, the number of positive COVID tests peaked the week ending July 4 with 2,398 cases, according to a Sept. 4 report from the Pima County Health Department. While a vocal minority continues to insist that masks do no good, the spread of the virus began to decline within weeks of Pima County’s mask mandate, as more people began wearing them in public. For the week ending Aug. 22, the number of new cases dropped to 495 and for the week ending Aug. 29, 455 new cases were reported.

Deaths in Pima County are down from a peak of 54 in the week ending July 4 to 20 for the week ending Aug. 15 and 13 for the week ending July 22. (Note that these numbers are subject to revision as recent cases and deaths may not have been reported.)

Hospitalization peaked the week ending July 18 with 239 COVID patients admitted to Pima County hospitals. For the week ending Aug. 29, 30 COVID patients were admitted to Pima County hospitals.

Pima County demographics

With the six-month mark upon us, here are some numbers from Pima County:

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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Tuesday, Sept. 8: Total Cases Top 206,000; UA Cracking Down on Off-Campus Parties; Get a Flu Shot; County Test Sites Open

Posted By on Tue, Sep 8, 2020 at 9:23 AM

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With just 81 new cases reported on Labor Day, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 206,000 as of Tuesday, Sept. 8, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

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Pima County had seen 22,035 of the state’s 206,045 confirmed cases.

A total of 5,221 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 596 deaths in Pima County, according to the Sept. 8 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases continues to decline from July peaks. ADHS reported that as of Sept. 7, 657 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state, the lowest that number has been since April 19, when 637 COVID patients were in the hospital. That number peaked at 3,517 on July 13.

A total of 855 people visited emergency rooms on Sept. 7 with COVID symptoms. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7.

A total of 212 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Sept. 3, the lowest that number has been since April 8, when 155 people were in ICU. The number of COVID patients in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13.

On a week-by-week basis in Pima County, the number of positive COVID tests peaked the week ending July 4 with 2,398 cases, according to a Sept. 4 report from the Pima County Health Department. While a vocal minority continues to insist that masks do no good, the spread of the virus began to decline within weeks of Pima County’s mask mandate, as more people began wearing them in public. For the week ending Aug. 22, the number of new cases dropped to 495 and for the week ending Aug. 29, 455 new cases were reported.

Deaths in Pima County are down from a peak of 54 in the week ending July 4 to 20 for the week ending Aug. 15 and 13 for the week ending July 22. (Note that these numbers are subject to revision as recent cases and deaths may not have been reported.)

Hospitalization peaked the week ending July 18 with 239 COVID patients admitted to Pima County hospitals. For the week ending Aug. 29, 30 COVID patients were admitted to Pima County hospitals.

Benchmarks met to allow schools to begin hybrid learning

Pima County last week reached benchmarks indicating that it has moved from “substantial” spread of the coronavirus to “moderate” spread, meaning local school districts can now consider hybrid learning that would allow some students to return to the classroom while others continue distance learning.

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