Friday, January 15, 2021

Posted By on Fri, Jan 15, 2021 at 8:56 AM

With more than 11,000 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 658,000 as of Friday, Jan 15, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 1,342 new cases today, has seen 87,687 of the state’s 658,186 confirmed cases.

A total of 11,040 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 1,393 deaths in Pima County, according to the Jan. 15 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases statewide dropped slightly in recent days but still remains far above the peak levels of the summer’s first wave. ADHS reported that as of Jan. 14, 4,866 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state, a slight drop from Wednesday’s 5,055. The summer peak of 3,517 hospitalized COVID patients was set on July 13; that number hit a subsequent low of 468 on Sept. 27, or less than a tenth of the current count.

A total of 2,120 people visited emergency rooms on Jan. 14 with COVID symptoms, down from the record high of 2,341 set on Tuesday, Dec. 29. That number had previously peaked at 2,008 on July 7; it hit a subsequent low of 653 on Sept. 28.

A total of 1,138 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Jan. 14. The summer’s record number of patients in ICU beds was 970, set on July 13. The subsequent low was 114 on Sept. 22.

A website that tracks COVID infections across the globe reports that Arizona continues to have a COVID transmission rate far above the United States as a whole.

The website 91-divoc.com, which uses data from Johns Hopkins University, reports that Arizona is seeing 126.5 infections per 100,000 people on a seven-day average, compared to 72.7 infections per 100,000 for the United States as a whole.

Pima County vaccination appointments fill up in two hours

Registration opened for priority groups in phase 1B of COVID-19 vaccine rollouts yesterday, but according to the Pima County Health Department, all available appointments aimed at the 75+ population at the two Banner-operated vaccination sites and Tucson Medical Center were “accounted for through the registration process,” according to a press release from the health department.

More than 20,000 residents registered for appointments within the first two hours of the registration website’s opening, the release said.

The health department recognized this is “causing frustration” for those still trying to receive appointments through the county’s registration website, but said more appointments will be made available as it receives more allocated vaccine doses from the state.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2021 at 3:21 PM

Registration opened for priority groups in phase 1B of COVID-19 vaccine rollouts today, but according to the Pima County Health Department, all available appointments aimed at the 75+ population at the two Banner-operated vaccination sites and Tucson Medical Center have been “accounted for through the registration process,” according to a press release from the health department.

More than 20,000 residents registered for appointments within the first two hours of the registration website’s opening, the release said.

The health department recognized this is “causing frustration” for those still trying to receive appointments through the county’s registration website, but said more appointments will be made available as it receives more allocated vaccine doses from the state.

“We know there is a great deal of anxiety in members of the public about COVID-19 and interest in getting the vaccine to protect themselves from contracting it,” Pima County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia and Pima County Health Department Director Dr. Theresa Cullen wrote in a joint statement. “But there will be more than 400,000 people in the 1B priority group once 65 and older people are added in. It will take several months to vaccinate all the people in this group.”

Although appointments the Banner sites and TMC have been accounted for, individuals 75 and older, prioritized essential workers and educators can register for a vaccine at www.pima.gov/covid19vaccineregistration or by calling 520-594-5684.

The 75+ population is encouraged to register at TMC, Banner University Medicine North or Banner’s site at the Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Education and childcare providers should register through the University of Arizona’s vaccination center, while protective service workers will primarily receive vaccines at the Tucson Convention Center. According to the county, both centers are set to open for vaccinations next week.

Tucson Medical Center will begin administering vaccines by appointment to those who registered tomorrow.

Also tomorrow, the Banner University Medicine North site will begin giving vaccines to registrants.

On Monday, the county will open a vaccine site at the Kino Sports Complex. Vaccine administration, operated by Banner University Medicine, will take place in a drive-thru at the parking lot to the south of the stadium. The site is expected to provide 1,600 vaccinations per day, according to the county.

“We hope to have our vaccine allotment from the state increased in the coming weeks,” Garcia and Cullen said in the release. “In the meantime, we ask for patience as we move forward with this enormous effort to protect everyone in Pima County from this terrible disease."

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Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2021 at 10:05 AM

click to enlarge Five officials from Arizona's hospital systems joined together to speak to the dire conditions of COVID-19 in the state. - BANNER HEALTH
Banner Health
Five officials from Arizona's hospital systems joined together to speak to the dire conditions of COVID-19 in the state.

Leaders from five Arizona hospital systems provided distressing news on the continuously worsening presence of COVID-19 in the state at a press briefing yesterday.

For weeks, Arizona has topped the charts for the highest coronavirus infection rate in the nation. Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer of Banner Health, said nearly 1 in 10 Arizonans is currently battling COVID-19.

The state’s total deaths from the virus surpassed 10,000 this week while COVID-19-related hospitalizations and new cases continue to grow.

Bessel said 58% of Arizona’s hospital beds are holding COVID-19 patients, a percentage that’s even higher in its ICUs.

If the virus continues at its current pace, Dr. Alyssa Chapital, the hospital medical director of Mayo Clinic, warned the state will meet the dire point where the needs of the community surpass hospitals’ resources—staff being the most critical.

If hospitals run out of these resources, caregivers would triage care, evaluating each patient on the necessity of their care compared to others. Resources would be allocated to those most in need.

“We have educated our staff about it, but it is our sincere hope that Arizonans can help slow the spread of this virus to avoid a triage situation,” Chapital said.

Dr. Keith Frey, chief medical officer of Dignity Health’s Arizona Division, said one of the reasons the state has yet to reach the dire conditions seen in coronavirus hotspots throughout the nation is because of collaboration among Arizona’s hospitals.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2021 at 9:23 AM

With more than 7,300 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 649,000 as of Thursday, Jan 14, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 1,089 new cases today, has seen 86,345 of the state’s 649,040 confirmed cases.

A total of 10,855 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 1,362 deaths in Pima County, according to the Jan. 14 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases statewide continues to soar as the virus has begun to spread more rapidly, putting stress on Arizona’s hospitals and surpassing July peaks. ADHS reported that as of Jan. 13, 4,930 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state, a slight drop from yesterday’s 5,055. The summer peak of 3,517 hospitalized COVID patients was set on July 13; that number hit a subsequent low of 468 on Sept. 27, or less than a tenth of the current count.

A total of 2,055 people visited emergency rooms on Jan. 13 with COVID symptoms, down from the record high of 2,341 set on Tuesday, Dec. 29. That number had previously peaked at 2,008 on July 7; it hit a subsequent low of 653 on Sept. 28.

A total of 1,167 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Jan. 13. The summer’s record number of patients in ICU beds was 970, set on July 13. The subsequent low was 114 on Sept. 22.

A website that tracks COVID infections across the globe reports that Arizona continues to have a COVID transmission rate far above the United States as a whole.

The website 91-divoc.com, which uses data from Johns Hopkins University, reports that Arizona is seeing a record 131.6 infections per 100,000 people on a seven-day average, compared to 74.7 infections per 100,000 for the United States as a whole.

Pima County unveils vaccination plan

As Pima County prepares to provide COVID-19 vaccines to a much wider segment of the population this week with a limited number of vaccines on hand, the county health department has announced its plan to prioritize the vaccination of specific segments of the hundreds of thousands of individuals who qualify.

“We are in a very vaccine-constrained environment right now, but we do not want to be in an administrative and distribution constrained environment,” County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen said at a press conference today. “So we challenged ourselves - it was only 10 days ago - to figure out how to give 300,000 vaccines in three months.”

Phase 1B of vaccine rollout includes prioritized education and protective service workers, essential workers in fields like transportation and government, adults in congregate settings with high-risk medical conditions and individuals over 75.

However, the 1B phase will be divided into sub-segments of 1B.1 and 1B.2. The 1B.1 group includes those over 75, teachers and childcare providers and prioritized protective service workers such as law enforcement and emergency response staff.

Those who qualify under 1B.1 can register to receive vaccines as the registration websites become available. According to Pima County Communications Director Mark Evans, the first two registration sites for Banner North and Tucson Medical Center will go live Thursday. Both locations prioritize the 75+ population.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2021 at 4:36 PM

click to enlarge HECTOR ACUÑA
Hector Acuña
Even though Democrat Joe Biden's inauguration is just a week away on Wednesday, Jan. 20, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 232-197 today
to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time following his incitement of a mob that overran the U.S. Capitol last week.

Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, were killed in the resulting rampage.

Ten Republicans, including Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, joined the all of the House Democrats in voting for impeachment.

The impeachment resolution states that Trump "engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States."

It notes that while a joint session of Congress was in the process of counting the electoral votes affirming Biden's win, Trump addressed a crowd of supporters and "reiterated false claims that 'we won this election, and we won it by a landslide.' He
also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged—and foreseeably resulted in—lawless action at the Capitol, such as: 'if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.' Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed … unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts."

The resolution also points to other efforts by Trump to subvert the election, such as his January phone to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to rig the election in his favor. A recording of the call was released to the media.

Trump "has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law," the resolution reads.

All five Democrats in the Arizona delegation—Reps. Raul Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick, Tom O'Halleran, Ruben Gallego and Greg Stanton—voted in favor of impeachment. All four Republicans—Reps. Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Debbie Lesko and David Schweikert—voted against it.

Grijalva said Trump remains a "clear and present danger to this country and must face responsibility for his actions."

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2021 at 3:45 PM

click to enlarge NIAID/CREATIVE COMMONS
NIAID/Creative Commons

As Pima County prepares to provide COVID-19 vaccines to a much wider segment of the population this week with a limited number of vaccines on hand, the county health department has announced its plan to prioritize the vaccination of specific segments of the hundreds of thousands of individuals who qualify.

“We are in a very vaccine-constrained environment right now, but we do not want to be in an administrative and distribution constrained environment,” County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen said at a press conference today. “So we challenged ourselves - it was only 10 days ago - to figure out how to give 300,000 vaccines in three months.”

Phase 1B of vaccine rollout includes prioritized education and protective service workers, essential workers in fields like transportation and government, adults in congregate settings with high-risk medical conditions and individuals over 75.

However, the 1B phase will be divided into sub-segments of 1B.1 and 1B.2. The 1B.1 group includes those over 75, teachers and childcare providers and prioritized protective service workers such as law enforcement and emergency response staff.

Those who qualify under 1B.1 can register to receive vaccines as the registration websites become available. According to Pima County Communications Director Mark Evans, the first two registration sites for Banner North and Tucson Medical Center will go live Thursday. Both locations prioritize the 75+ population.

In addition to the Banner North and Tucson Medical Center vaccination centers used to provide vaccines to group 1A beginning in December, Pima County is adding Kino Stadium, the University of Arizona, Tucson Convention Center and Rillito Racetrack as vaccine sites.

The county asks those in the 75+ age group to receive their vaccinations at Banner North, Kino Stadium or Tucson Medical Center. Teachers should go through The University of Arizona and protective service workers should register at the Tucson Convention Center.

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Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2021 at 1:35 PM

click to enlarge U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva: "President Trump is a clear and present danger to this country and must face consequences for his actions."
U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva: "President Trump is a clear and present danger to this country and must face consequences for his actions."
Congressman Raul Grijalva has announced he'll vote in favor of impeaching President  Donald Trump for a second time. Grijalva's statement:

Impeachment is reserved for the extreme situations when a President betrays their oath of office, abuses their power, and loses the trust of the American people. President Trump did exactly that as he urged deranged individuals to march on the Capitol and threaten lawmakers to overturn the results of the election and illegally install him in power. As mobs overpowered Capitol police, he refused to forcefully condemn them. He has since showed no remorse for his actions and bears responsibility for this horrific attack.

President Trump is a clear and present danger to this country and must face consequences for his actions. I will vote to impeach Trump for a second time because calls of ‘unity’ will not stop the treacherous situations Trump continues to encourage. Trump and his congressional enablers must be held accountable for the carnage and terror they released on our nation last week, and for their continued willingness to spread lies and support violence to undermine our democracy.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2021 at 9:15 AM

click to enlarge TUSD Governing Board members learned fewer COVID-19 vaccines will be available to educators than anticipated at a meeting on Jan. 12. - TUCSON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Tucson Unified School District
TUSD Governing Board members learned fewer COVID-19 vaccines will be available to educators than anticipated at a meeting on Jan. 12.

Teachers included in the next phase of Pima County’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout will have less access to vaccine doses than originally expected, Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo said at a governing board meeting Tuesday.

At a press conference on Jan. 8, Trujillo announced a registration website will go live Friday where TUSD employees can make an appointment to receive a vaccine at one of Pima County’s vaccination sites and schedule a follow up for a second dose 28 days later.

However, the Pima County Health Department has notified TUSD there may not be enough vaccine supply to vaccinate the hundreds of thousands who qualify for the vaccine in phase 1B, which includes prioritized essential workers in education and protective services, essential workers in fields like transportation and government, adults in congregate settings with high-risk medical conditions and individuals older than 75.

In its first week of vaccine implementation starting Jan. 18, the district could be limited to 100 to 200 vaccine appointments weekly for up to a month, Trujillo said.

“The Pima County Health Department's late Friday notification that it received a significantly limited supply of vaccines will not allow them to meet the aggressive targets that they had previously set of being able to vaccinate 2,000 to 3,000 group 1B individuals a day,” Trujillo said.

“So this compromises our efforts as a Tucson Unified community to make sure that all of our 1B employees can get vaccinated by the end of the month of February.”

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2021 at 7:10 AM

Alex Martinez looked over his Air Force dress blues, the uniform he wore when he graduated from boot camp. He touched his insignia – a circle with a star in the center and a striped wing flaring from either side – that signified his rank of airman second class.

“I was in the military for three years, 11 months and 13 days,” said Martinez, 25, of Arizona. “From the day I got out of basic training, I was ready to get out” of the Air Force.

During his time in uniform, Martinez contemplated suicide, a phenomenon that increasingly affects younger veterans. In fact, veterans ages 18 to 34 experience a higher rate of suicide than all other age brackets. The suicide rate for young veterans swelled by 76% from 2005 to 2017, according to the Veterans Affairs’ 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Report, released in 2019.

Yet unlike soldiers who served in frontline deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, Martinez had never experienced combat – a subtle side of military suicide that isn’t fully understood. In fact, a 2018 Pentagon study determined that 41.7% of active duty military members who died by suicide in the previous year had not been deployed.

Martinez suffered from suicidal thoughts, isolation, addiction and a culture that suppresses and neglects the mental health of its members.



Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Jan 12, 2021 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge COURTESY PCHD
Courtesy PCHD

With the spring semester beginning, three drive-through COVID-19 testing sites are returning to Pima Community College. The sites facilitated by Arizona State University are at PCC's West, East and Desert Vista locations:

• Pima College West, 2202 W. Anklam Road, Mondays, 9 a.m. to noon

• Pima College Desert Vista, 5901 S. Calle Santa Cruz, Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to noon

• Pima College East, 8181 E. Irvington Road, Fridays, 9 a.m. to noon

Appointments are required and can be scheduled at pima.gov/covid19testing

Additionally, the Pima County Health Department announced that the Downtown COVID-19 testing location has moved from the parking garage at 400 W. Congress St. to Tucson Electric Power’s parking lot on the south side of the building on the northwest corner of South Sixth Avenue and East 12th Street. The lot is immediately south of 88 E. Broadway Blvd. The hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.