Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2021 at 1:52 PM

click to enlarge "We are currently caring for more COVID-19 patients in our Arizona hospitals and ICUs than we were during the peak of the summer surge. Patient care in our hospitals has not yet returned to a state that I would define as usual and customary, and I would caution you against celebrating too early as we slowly work our way out of this difficult surge," Banner Health’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel said at a press conference on Jan. 27. - BANNER HEALTH
Banner Health
"We are currently caring for more COVID-19 patients in our Arizona hospitals and ICUs than we were during the peak of the summer surge. Patient care in our hospitals has not yet returned to a state that I would define as usual and customary, and I would caution you against celebrating too early as we slowly work our way out of this difficult surge," Banner Health’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel said at a press conference on Jan. 27.

Despite last week's announcement that COVID-19 cases had decreased and that some elective surgeries would resume, Arizona’s largest hospital system is still treating a record number of coronavirus patients.

Banner Health’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel estimated that 45% to 50% of the COVID-19 patients in the state—369,281 as of Wednesday—are being treated by Banner.

“We are currently caring for more COVID-19 patients in our Arizona hospitals and ICUs than we were during the peak of the summer surge,” Bessel said. “Patient care in our hospitals has not yet returned to a state that I would define as usual and customary, and I would caution you against celebrating too early as we slowly work our way out of this difficult surge.”

A grim outlook

Reported COVID-19 deaths continue to rise, and Banner is using thousands of out-of-state healthcare workers while upskilling others to help in its ICUs, Bessel said.

The hospital’s forecasting predicts it will take two to three more months for Arizona to fully recover from the winter surge in cases with many more weeks of high numbers of hospitalizations.

Bessel said Banner hospitals frequently monitor the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation tool to grasp likely consequences of COVID-19 in the future.

Estimates predict Arizona will reach 18,500 deaths by May if it continues its current mitigation policies against the virus. If the state eases current mitigations, the death total could reach 22,200 by May, Bessel shared. 

Bessel said while vaccines are a long-term strategy to combat coronavirus, “Mitigation and enforcement will be much more effective in reducing COVID-19 deaths in the upcoming weeks and months.”

Banner’s surpasses 100,000 COVID vaccinations

On Tuesday, Banner reached the milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 vaccines at its PODs across the state.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2021 at 1:15 PM

click to enlarge A 2013 photo of a pool in the Tres Rios wetlands, a reclaimed part of the Salt, Gila and Agua Fria rivers that is now teeming with wildlife. Tres Rios is one of the projects named in a bill creating a $150 million fund for local water projects in Arizona, with the first $900,000 being released for a Pascua Yaqui irrigation project. - DOCENTJOYCE
docentjoyce
A 2013 photo of a pool in the Tres Rios wetlands, a reclaimed part of the Salt, Gila and Agua Fria rivers that is now teeming with wildlife. Tres Rios is one of the projects named in a bill creating a $150 million fund for local water projects in Arizona, with the first $900,000 being released for a Pascua Yaqui irrigation project.

WASHINGTON – Pascua Yaqui Council members called it “a blessing.”

They were talking about $900,000 in federal funds that will be used to bring water to the tribe’s lands for irrigation, the first fruits of a successful effort last year by members of the state’s congressional delegation to win $150 million in federal funding for water projects around the state.

“Water is sacred to a lot of tribes and a lot of Arizonans. For us, it’s a blessing,” Pascua Yaqui Chairman Peter Yucupicio said at a news conference announcing the funding. “We started looking at this and we said, ‘This will help us now and in the future.'”

The money comes from an Army Corps of Engineers fund dedicated to water infrastructure projects in Arizona. Under the bill, local governments can enter into agreements with the corps for water, wastewater treatment, environmental restoration and other projects. The Army would pay 75% of the cost of the project and the local government would assume all operating costs once the work was completed.



Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2021 at 8:52 AM

With 5,918 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases surpassed 738,000 as of Wednesday, Jan 27, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 709 new cases today, has seen 98,743 of the state’s 738,561 confirmed cases.

A total of 12,643 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 1,680 deaths in Pima County, according to the Jan. 26 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases statewide has declined in recent weeks after peaking at 5,082 on Jan. 11 but remains above the peak levels of the summer’s first wave. ADHS reported that as of Jan. 26, 4,250 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. 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.

A total of 1,992 people visited emergency rooms on Jan. 26 with COVID symptoms, down 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; it hit a subsequent low of 653 on Sept. 28.

A total of 1,024 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Jan. 26, 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. The subsequent low was 114 on Sept. 22.

Cases in slight decline but still at higher levels than summer wave

While the spread of COVID-19 is still considered substantial across the state, it appears numbers have slightly decreased within the last few weeks.

According to the latest report by Dr. Joe Gerald, a University of Arizona professor who creates weekly coronavirus epidemiology reports based on Arizona Department of Health Services data, the week ending Jan. 17 shows a 21% decrease in coronavirus cases from the week prior.

Both hospitalizations and ICU bed occupancy decreased 8% across the state.

In Pima County, the COVID-19 case count for the same week dropped 19% from the week before, the report says.

However, the welcome changes must be looked at relative to the concerning status the state continues to hold in terms of record-setting COVID-19 statistics.

“This week saw a large, unexpected decline in COVID-19 cases. This decline is unlikely to be an artifact of testing as test positivity continues to decline along with hospital and ICU occupancy,” Gerald wrote in the report. “While this reprieve is a welcomed change, the [coronavirus] continues to rampage through Arizona and remains at an appallingly high level.”

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2021 at 7:09 AM

PHOENIX – On his first day in office, President Joe Biden sent to Congress his plan to reform the U.S. immigration system. The bill includes preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and outlines a path to permanent residence and citizenship for its recipients.

That includes Reyna Montoya, an activist in Phoenix who came to Arizona when she was 10.

“It has been a renewed hope for the immigrant community,” Montoya said. “Before, everything seemed so dark and so deemed, and we constantly were fighting.”

Montoya is the CEO and founder of Aliento, a nonprofit that helps immigrants, particularly young people in the country illegally who have DACA or want to benefit from the Obama-era program. She said she has been looking for a way to obtain U.S. citizenship since her family moved from Tijuana, Mexico, to Nogales, Arizona, in 2001.

“It’s a huge step in the right direction,” Montoya said. “This is an important day that symbolizes a new beginning.”



Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2021 at 1:00 AM

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2021 at 4:03 PM

click to enlarge “Unless vaccine supply loosens up, we would start to ramp down the number of first dose appointments as we are ramping up the number of second dose appointments because I can't give you vaccine that I don't have,” Pima County Chief Medical Officer Francisco Garcia said at a press conference Tuesday, Jan. 26. - PIMA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Pima County Health Department
“Unless vaccine supply loosens up, we would start to ramp down the number of first dose appointments as we are ramping up the number of second dose appointments because I can't give you vaccine that I don't have,” Pima County Chief Medical Officer Francisco Garcia said at a press conference Tuesday, Jan. 26.

As Pima County continues administering COVID-19 vaccines to a select group of individuals, they’re continuing to advocate to the state for more doses to provide immunization to a much larger portion of the population.

Yesterday, Tucson Medical Center had completed the most vaccinations at 31,908, while Banner North stood in second with 17,921, according to information Pima County Chief Medical Officer Francisco Garcia shared in a data chart at a press conference today.

Currently eligible in phase 1B priority of the county’s vaccine rollout are educators, protective service workers and individuals over 75. Healthcare workers have been eligible to receive the vaccine since mid-December.

click to enlarge Pima County administered more than 69,000 vaccines as of Monday morning, according to Pima County Chief Medical Officer Francisco Garcia. - PIMA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Pima County Health Department
Pima County administered more than 69,000 vaccines as of Monday morning, according to Pima County Chief Medical Officer Francisco Garcia.

Since the beginning of January, Garcia said the county has given first-time vaccine doses to 15,523 individuals over 75.

“We are literally vaccinating thousands of folks who are 75 years of age or older. That is so important because these are the folks who are going to die if they get COVID. These are the folks who suffer the worst complications. And these are the folks who really have everything to lose,” Garcia said.

While the county continues to fight for vaccine allocations proportional to its population of more than a million, Arizona’s 24-hour PODs are being allocated nearly the same amount of vaccine as all of Pima County combined.

The two sites, one at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale that opened on Jan. 11 and one at Phoenix Municipal Stadium set to open Feb. 1, were ordered 140,400 doses as of Jan. 26, while the state ordered Pima County 140,425.

The county has administered 79,574 vaccines as of Jan. 26, while the state PODs have administered 79,112.

“To me, that is a really important statistic because it speaks to the fact that we need to have more vaccine on the ground here if we are going to continue to make good progress,” Garcia said. “Right now, our PODs are firing on all engines, it isn't always pretty and it's not always perfect, but we're actually doing a pretty darn good job of getting vaccine administered into the right people's arms.”



Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2021 at 2:37 PM

After last week’s inauguration of the first female vice president, the University of Arizona is hosting a virtual discussion about voting history and voting rights on Thursday, Jan. 28.

The discussion includes a panel of local women in the industry: Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly; assistant professor of government and public policy Lisa M. Sanchez; and Heidi Osselaer, author of "Winning Their Place: Arizona Women in Politics.”

The panel discussion is presented by UA’s Special Collections in partnership with Patricia MacCorquodale, professor emerita in the Department of Gender and Women's Studies. The event is part of UA’s online exhibit "Founding Mothers: From the Ballot Box to the University.”

According to UA, the panelists will discuss how the 100th anniversary of the right to vote and 2020's historic election outcomes have impacted women. They will also talk about how people and institutions can remove barriers that prevent people from participating in democracy, and how to encourage participation among women and people of color.

The discussion takes place at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28. The event is open to the community, but registration is required. Register for the online event at the University Libraries website.

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2021 at 2:33 PM

click to enlarge Pima County Public Library's Joel D. Valdez Main Library
Pima County Public Library's Joel D. Valdez Main Library

The numbers are in, and Pima County Public Library has announced a record-breaking year, with locals checking out more than 1 million ebooks and audiobooks in 2020. These numbers were no doubt heightened by stay-at-home orders, but PCPL says ebook and audiobook rentals have seen increased use for multiple years.

PCPL offers 24/7 access to ebooks and audiobooks through the Libby reading app, which allows reading across multiple devices, Bluetooth and offline.

"We're thrilled to mark this milestone,” said PCPL community relations manager Holly Schaffer. “It's wonderful to know that our customers are enjoying the digital materials we offer.”

Pima County Public Library's most popular ebooks in 2020:

  1. 1. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  2. 2. The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
  3. 3. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  4. 4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  5. 5. Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Pima County Public Library's most popular audiobooks in 2020:

  1. 1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  2. 2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  3. 3. Educated by Tara Westover
  4. 4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  5. 5. Redemption by David Baldacci

For more information about PCPL's audio and ebooks, visit pima.overdrive.com

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2021 at 12:16 PM

While the spread of COVID-19 is still considered substantial across the state, it appears numbers have slightly decreased within the last few weeks.

According to the latest report by Dr. Joe Gerald, a University of Arizona professor who creates weekly coronavirus epidemiology reports based on Arizona Department of Health Services data, the week ending Jan. 17 shows a 21% decrease in coronavirus cases from the week prior.

Both hospitalizations and ICU bed occupancy decreased 8% across the state.

In Pima County, the COVID-19 case count for the same week dropped 19% from the week before, the report says.

However, the welcome changes must be looked at relative to the concerning status the state continues to hold in terms of record-setting COVID-19 statistics.

“This week saw a large, unexpected decline in COVID-19 cases. This decline is unlikely to be an artifact of testing as test positivity continues to decline along with hospital and ICU occupancy,” Gerald wrote in the report. “While this reprieve is a welcomed change, the [coronavirus] continues to rampage through Arizona and remains at an appallingly high level.”

Arizona remains the state with the highest transmission rate for the virus in the nation with 96 average daily cases per 100,000 of the population, according to CDC data.

As of today, Arizona has reported 732,643 coronavirus cases and 12,448 deaths, while Pima County has reported 98,034 cases and 1,649 deaths.

Furthermore, in a Jan. 21 report from WalletHub that compares all 50 states and the District of Columbia using five key metrics tracking the effects of COVID-19, Arizona ranked as the least safe state throughout the pandemic thus far.

Arizona earned the grim rankings of:

  • 51st for hospitalization rate

  • 51st for positive testing rate

  • 50th for death rate

  • 49th for transmission rate

  • 42nd for vaccination rate

    click to enlarge According to a Jan. 21 WalletHub report, Arizona ranks as the least safe state for COVID-19 in the nation. - WALLETHUB
    WalletHub
    According to a Jan. 21 WalletHub report, Arizona ranks as the least safe state for COVID-19 in the nation.



Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2021 at 11:30 AM

PHOENIX – The Cactus League has asked Major League Baseball (MLB) to delay the start of spring training in Arizona due to high COVID-19 infection rates in Maricopa County. The request came in a letter addressed to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.

“In view of the current state of the pandemic in Maricopa County – with one of the nation’s highest infection rates – we believe it is wise to delay the start of spring training to allow for the COVID-19 situation to improve here,” the letter sent on Friday said.

The board’s decision is “based off data from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which projects a sharp decline in infections in Arizona by mid-March (an estimated 9,712 daily infections on February 15 and 3,072 daily infections on March 15),” the letter stated.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, the state of Arizona has over 727,000 reported cases of COVID-19, with 5,321 new cases reported Monday.

Maricopa County has over 452,000 cases of COVID-19 and there were 3,763 new reported cases.

The letter is signed by Bridget Binsbacher, the executive director of the Cactus League; Martin Harvier, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community President; the city managers of Phoenix and Tempe; and the mayors of Mesa, Surprise, Peoria, Scottsdale, Goodyear and Glendale.

“We just wanted to let MLB know that if there was any opportunity to postpone the season that we collectively, as the host cities, the host municipalities, and the tribal community, would support that,” Binsbacher said. “What really inspired that letter was it allows for additional time for the situation to improve and certainly we’re seeing, even since the thought of that letter, the situation has improved and we’re trending in the right direction.”