Thursday, April 15, 2021

Posted By on Thu, Apr 15, 2021 at 8:37 AM

With 460 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus neared 852,000 as of Thursday, April 15, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 126 new cases today, has seen 114,029 of the state’s 851,725 confirmed cases.

With 14 new deaths reported this morning, a total of 17,123 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 2,376 deaths in Pima County, according to the April 15 report.

A total of 584 coronavirus patients were in the hospital as of April 14. That’s roughly 11.5% of the number hospitalized at the peak of the winter surge, which reached 5,082 on Jan. 12. 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 968 people visited emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on April 14. That number represents 41% of 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 162 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on April 14, which roughly 13.5% of the record 1,183 ICU patients 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.



Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Posted By on Wed, Apr 14, 2021 at 2:00 PM

The Kino COVID-19 vaccination drive-through site will shut down permanently after delivering its last doses on May 14, due to hot weather, Pima County officials announced on Tuesday.

The site at Kino Stadium managed by Banner – University Medicine will begin and end earlier starting on April 17. The new hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, in order to keep people out of the heat. After April 17, the site will be administering only second doses. Patients will be notified by Banner directly if their appointment times need to change due to the shift.

"We're grateful to Banner for their collaboration with Pima County in getting so many shots in arms quickly and efficiently," said Pima County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen. "The County exceeded its early vaccination goals and has worked with partners to expand indoor operations and keep the momentum going."

In preparation for the shift, on April 12, the county opened an indoor facility at Kino Event Center on the northside of Ajo Way. First- and second-dose appointments can be made at podvaccine.azdhs.gov.

Banner has administered more than 140,000 doses of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines within Pima County since December 2020.

“It has been our pleasure to partner with Pima County on this very important effort,” said Sara Frost, chief executive officer of Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and South. “We will provide ongoing support to the health department as they continue their vaccination efforts in Pima County, and we hope all community residents will choose to get the vaccine when it is your turn.”

For vaccine information and registration options in Pima County, go to www.pima.gov/covid19vaccine.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 14, 2021 at 8:40 AM

With 419 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases passed 851,000 as of Wednesday, April 14, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services

Pima County, which reported 81 new cases today, has seen 113,903 of the state’s 851,265 confirmed cases.

With 4 new deaths reported this morning, a total of 17,109 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 2,372 deaths in Pima County, according to the April 14 report.

A total of 531 coronavirus patients were in the hospital as of April 13. That’s roughly 22.5% of the number hospitalized at the peak of the winter surge, which reached 5,082 on Jan. 12. 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 984 people visited emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on April 13. That number represents 42% of 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 150 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on April 13, which roughly 12.5% of the record 1,183 ICU patients 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.

County halts use of J&J vaccine

Pima County Health Department is temporarily pausing the distribution of Johnson & Johnson vaccine on the guidance and recommendation from the CDC and Arizona Department of Health Services on Tuesday.



Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 12:40 PM

click to enlarge MUFID MAJNUN ON UNSPLASH
Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Pima County Health Department is temporarily pausing the distribution of Johnson & Johnson vaccine on the guidance and recommendation from the CDC and Arizona Department of Health Services on Tuesday.

In a CDC statement, officials with the CDC and FDA said they are reviewing six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. According to the CDC, all six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. More than 6.8 million doses of the Janssen vaccine have been administered in the U.S. as of Tuesday.

Pima County has distributed 24,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, primarily at the mobile clinics and said they have received “no reports of adverse reactions” in a statement Tuesday.

“Vaccines available today are safe and effective,” said Pima County Health Department Director, Dr. Theresa Cullen. “And although out of an abundance of caution we have paused the use of J&J, we urge unvaccinated to continue to keep getting vaccinated.”

There is a 1 in a million estimated risk of a blood clot from the Janssen vaccine, but there is a 1 in 100 overall risk of dying if you get COVID-19, said Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, associate professor of immunobiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.



Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 10:30 AM

Amphitheater Unified School District high schools will host outdoor graduation ceremonies, district officials announced last week.

The three high schools have also consulted with the Pima County Health Department to decide the best health practices to hold these events.

Graduating seniors at all three high schools - Canyon del Oro, Ironwood Ridge, and Amphi - will receive four guest tickets. All attendees must wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines. A livestream option will also be available for all who cannot or do not wish to attend.

Amphi Communications Director Michelle Valenzuela said students would inform the school if they do not wish to participate, but they are not keeping track at the district level.

In an announcement to students and families, Amphitheater High School Principal A.J. Malis asked for patience as information changes and schedules are determined. The schools are mandating students attend the graduation rehearsal ceremonies to determine the distancing and seating of every student.

At a graduation parent meeting on Wednesday, Ironwood Ridge Principal Matt Munger emphasized the importance of attending the rehearsal.

“If they do not, unfortunately, attend the rehearsal, that will preclude them from participating in the commencement ceremony,” Munger said.

Amphitheater District high schools will also offer students the opportunity to participate in Project Grad. Normally a surprise event for students after graduation, Project Grad will now look a little different with schools using outdoor space to plan a socially distanced celebration after the graduation ceremonies.



Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 8:44 AM

With 610 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 850,000 as of Tuesday, April 13, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 58 new cases today, has seen 113,822 of the state’s 850,846 confirmed cases.

With 19 new deaths reported this morning, a total of 17,105 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 2,373 deaths in Pima County, according to the April 12 report.

A total of 565 coronavirus patients were in the hospital as of April 11. That’s roughly 16% of the number hospitalized at the peak of the winter surge, which reached 5,082 on Jan. 12. 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 881 people visited emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on April 12. That number represents 38% of 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 150 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on April 12, which roughly 13% of the record 1,183 ICU patients 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.

UA urging students to start vaccinations by end of the week so they can get both shots before the end of the semester

The University of Arizona is encouraging students to get vaccinated before they travel outside of Pima County and, ideally, students should receive their first dose by Friday to be fully vaccinated come summer vacation, announced UA President Robert C. Robbins Monday morning.



Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 1:00 AM

Monday, April 12, 2021

Posted By on Mon, Apr 12, 2021 at 5:34 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JEFF GARDNER
Photo by Jeff Gardner

The University of Arizona is encouraging students to get vaccinated before they travel outside of Pima County and, ideally, students should receive their first dose by Friday to be fully vaccinated come summer vacation, UA President Robert C. Robbins said on Monday morning.

“We want to vaccinate as many of our students as we can, prior to the end of the semester, with many students traveling out of state to return home for the summer, or to do programs outside of Pima County,” said Robbins. “We have a very limited window to administer the first dose for them to reach full vaccination before traveling, due to the wait time between doses.”

Last week, the university announced students could register for same-day vaccination appointments at either the student registration tent at the UA POD on Cherry Avenue open from 10 a.m to 8 p.m., or the CAT Ambassador Team Tent on the Mall in front of the Student Union.

Robbins said when speaking to students on campus, they found many are hesitant to receive the vaccine or want to talk to their family or friends before making an appointment.

Faced with hundreds of unfilled appointments daily, the UA POD is looking to tackle the barriers faced due to vaccination hesitancy.

Posted By on Mon, Apr 12, 2021 at 9:04 AM

With 675 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 850,000 as of Monday, April 12, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 105 new cases today, has seen 113,764 of the state’s 850,236 confirmed cases.

With no new deaths reported this morning, a total of 17,086 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 2,369 deaths in Pima County, according to the April 12 report.

A total of 552 coronavirus patients were in the hospital as of April 11. That’s roughly 11% 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 911 people visited emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on April 11. That number represents 39% of 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 148 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on April 11, which roughly 12.5% of the record 1,183 ICU patients 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.

Decline in COVID cases stalls

A decline in cases of COVID-19 in Arizona has stalled in the wake of Gov. Doug Ducey’s lifting of restrictions designed to slow the spread of the killer virus.

While numbers are still far lower than at the January peak in cases, the state has now seen two weeks of minor increases in cases following 10 weeks of decline, while hospital occupancy has been on a slight upswing, according to Dr. Joe Gerald, an epidemiologist and professor in the UA School of Public Health who has been tracking the novel coronavirus for more than a year.

“[O]ur three-month streak of sustained improvements has stalled owing to more transmissible variants and/or normalization of business and social activities,” Gerald wrote in his tracking report. “Nonetheless, hospital capacity remains adequate to meet Arizona’s needs even though the backlog of non-COVID care has yet to be fully addressed.”

In the week ending April 4, a total of 4,281 Arizonans tested positive for COVID, a 2 percent jump from the previous week.

Gerald noted that for the first time, the rate of cases among people older than 65 had fallen below that of children, with 28 cases per 100,000 for seniors vs. 37 cases per 100,000 among kids younger than 15.

Overall, Arizonans were testing positive at a rate of 59 cases per 100,000, which kept the state just above the threshold of “substantial” spread of the virus. People between the ages of 15 and 24 were testing positive at a rate of 95 cases per 100,000. People between the ages of 16 and 64 were testing positive at a rate of 70 cases per 100,000.

Gerald advised that people and businesses should continue to follow the advice of public health experts regarding wearing masks and other precautions, but that “normalization of low-risk activities remains reasonable.” But he said medically vulnerable people who had not yet been vaccinated should continue to avoid going out in public.

Mask mandate still on in Pima County

Arizona Health Director Cara Christ said last week that she would not move to overrule Pima County's mask mandate, which requires anyone over the age of 5 to wear a mask in public places where physical distancing is not possible unless they are exempted by a qualifying health condition.

At an April 9 press briefing, Christ said while she has the authority as the head of Arizona Department of Health, she is focusing on the vaccination efforts and didn’t think she’d use the power “at this point in the pandemic.”

After Pima County said it would keep its mask requirement in place despite Gov. Doug Ducey announcement that he was lifting other COVID restrictions and local governments could no longer enforce mask mandates.

In a March 26 letter, the Pima County Attorney’s Office advised County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry that Gov. Doug Ducey does not have the legal authority to prevent the County Health Department from enacting reasonable public health measures.

“It is up to the Legislature, not the Governor, to decide what authority it wants to delegate to counties. It has delegated counties broad public health authority, as well as authority over their own property,” wrote Deputy County Attorney Jonathan Pinkney in a legal opinion released by the Board of Supervisors on April 6. “The Governor cannot, through the exercise of his executive authority, take that away.”

After state Sens. Vince Leach (R-SaddeBrooke) and Michelle Urgenti-Rita (R-HOMETOWN) and state Rep. Bret Roberts (R-Maricopa) asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich about Pima County’s authority in the matter, Brnovich provided an informal opinion that backed Pinkey’s position, but also suggested: “the Governor likely has the authority to preempt the county resolution through ADHS rules and regulations promulgated and enforced by ADHS.”

While Ducey has not ordered Christ to overturn local mask mandates, he did sign House Bill 2270 last week, which allows businesses to ignore future mask mandates once it takes effect later this year.

Will Humble, the former director of health in the Brewer administration and the head of the Arizona Public Health Association, wrote on his blog that it was “astonishingly irresponsible to sign a bill that completely gets rid of this non-pharmaceutical intervention during an emergency and also stripping all regulations from the Administrative Code that require infection control or environmental exposure masks.”

“Of course, the ADHS under the leadership of Director Christ offered no statement or testimony in committee expressing any concern whatsoever about the bill,” Humble added. “Such is the state of the public health leadership in this state.”

Pima County transitioning to indoor vaccination sites

As temperatures rise, Pima County officials are shifting to indoor vaccination sites to avoid making staff and volunteers endure long days in triple-degree temperatures.

Pima County opens a new indoor vaccine site today at the Kino Event Center, where the county had earlier been doing COVID testing. That site is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Register at azdhs.gov.

The county has also opened an indoor vaccination POD at El Pueblo Center, 101 W. Irvington Road, which is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

The county is working with TMC to move their drive-thru POD to a walk-through site at the Udall Center at Udall Park, 7200 E. Tanque Verde Road, beginning April 19. Appointments can be made through register.vaccine.pima.gov.

The drive-through POD at Banner-South Kino Stadium, 2500 E. Ajo Way, will offer appointments between 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning April 17.

As of Monday, April 12, XXX people in Pima County had received at least one shot of the virus, accounting for X% of the population. A total of X people were fully vaccinated.

Anyone 16 and older is now eligible for vaccination at Pima County or state PODs.

You can register for your vaccine appointments at a state POD by visiting pod vaccine.azdhs.gov, and those who need assistance can call 1-844-542-8201.

Register for an appointment at a Pima County POD at pima.gov/covid19vaccineregistration or by calling 520-222-0119.

Many local pharmacies are now receiving vaccine doses. To find one near you, visit the ADHS website.

Get tested: Pima County has free COVID testing

Pima County is continuing to offer a number of testing centers and pop-up testing sites around town, including the northside Ellie Towne Flowing Wells Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road. Schedule an appointment at pima.gov/covid19testing.

The University of Arizona’s antibody testing can determine if you have had COVID and now have antibodies. To sign up for testing, visit https://covid19antibodytesting.arizona.edu/home.

—with additional reporting from Austin Counts, Christina Duran, Jeff Gardner and Mike Truelsen

Posted By on Mon, Apr 12, 2021 at 6:53 AM

click to enlarge THEIMAGESTOCKS
TheImageStocks

PHOENIX – Nationwide lockdowns in the past year have driven demand for companionship from man’s best friend during the pandemic, and shelters across the country have seen spikes in dog adoptions and fosters. But some pricey and popular canines are being ripped away from their intended forever homes and sold to unsuspecting buyers.

It’s known as dog-flipping, a phenomenon that drew widespread attention after pop star Lady Gaga’s dog walker was shot and wounded and her two French bulldogs were stolen in February, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The dogs were returned after the performer offered $500,000 as a reward, and the investigation continues into whether thieves targeted Gaga or just her valuable Frenchies.

Because pets are legally viewed nationwide as personal property, dog thieves generally have little to lose.

In Phoenix, dog theft reports are on the rise. In 2019, 137 pets were reported stolen, Sgt. Andy Williams told Cronkite News. In 2020, that number jumped to 155.

“Animals and pets are considered property, so with regards to theft there are no unique laws” for pet abductions, he said.

According to pet detective Karin TarQwyn, French bulldogs and other small breeds have become desirable over the past two to three years. A quick search on Craigslist shows asking prices for a Frenchie range from $4,000 to $10,000.

“The least amount of money that we’ve been able to use to get a French bulldog back (to its rightful owner) is $3,500,” said TarQwyn, who has worked full time to assist in locating and recovering missing pets since 2005. “And people are willing to pay the price because they are desperate.”