Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Friday, Oct. 16: Total AZ Cases Top 229K; Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair Canceled; More Restaurant Closures; Top News of the Week

With 738 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 229,000 as of Friday, Oct. 16, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County had seen 26,769 of the state’s 229,486 confirmed cases.

With 17 new deaths yesterday, a total of 5,806 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 633 deaths in Pima County, according to the Oct. 16 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases has declined from July peaks but has ticked upward this week. ADHS reported that as of Oct. 15, 747 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. That number peaked with 3,517 hospitalized COVID patients on July 13.

A total of 801 people visited emergency rooms on Oct. 15 with COVID symptoms. That number, which peaked at 2,008 on July 7, hadn’t climbed above 800 since Sept. 21.

A total of 167 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Oct. 15. 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 2,453 cases, according to an Oct. 7 report from the Pima County Health Department. For the week ending Sept. 5, a total of 863 cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 12, 1,105 cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 19, 1,219 cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 26, 582 cases were reported; for the week ending Oct. 3, 472 cases were reported. (Recent weeks are subject to revision.)

Deaths in Pima County are down from a peak of 54 in the week ending July 4 to 10 in the week ending Sept. 5, one in the week ending Sept. 12, three in the week ending Sept. 19, two in the week ending Sept. 26 and one in the week ending Oct. 3. (Recent weeks are subject to revision.)

Hospitalization peaked the week ending July 18 with 221 COVID patients admitted to Pima County hospitals. In the week ending Aug. 29, 37 COVID patients were admitted to Pima County hospitals; in the week ending Sept. 5, 26 patients were admitted to Pima County hospitals; in the week ending Sept. 12, 23 patients were admitted; in the week ending Sept. 19, 14 patients were admitted; in the week ending Sept. 26, 11 people were admitted and in the week ending Oct. 3, 17 patients were admitted. (Recent weeks are subject to revision.)

Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair canceled

The Fourth Avenue Merchants Association is canceling their annual winter street fair due to a new special event permit application which would leave little time to properly plan the event.

New guidelines released by the City of Tucson and Pima County last week state that all special events of 50 people or more held in unincorporated Pima County will need to apply with the Pima County Health Department. The special event application turnaround time is between 14 to 21 days, according to an Oct. 9 email sent by the county.

“We can’t do anything without proper permittaing,” said Monique Vallery of the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association. “We want to produce the safest COVID adherent event as possible and time just isn’t in our favor.”

Typically, the merchants association would only need to apply for a special event permit with the city, Vallery said. While she “absolutely respects” the county and city’s decision to keep Tucsonans safe during the pandemic, Vallery said she is disappointed at the timing of these new protocols because “it makes planning for an event this size impossible.”

“Because we haven’t been able to see what guideline would be or what those expectations would be earlier, it really doesn’t allow for enough time to come up with a mitigation plan to fit the needs of all parties,” Vallery said.

This is the second street fair the merchant's association has had to cancel due to coronavirus concerns. About 98 percent of the association’s revenue budget comes from the bi-annual street fair, according to Vallery. She said the association has worked hard to save over the past several years for a rainy day, but “nobody expected this rainy day to be this big or last this long.”

“This is certainly devastating but our goal is to continue to support our local merchants on the avenue, as well as all the folks we support through our community partners,” Vallery said. “We’re working hard to continue down the path to get us to the Spring Street Fair.”

The Fourth Avenue Spring Street Fair is slated for March 19-21, 2021.

Cafe Poca Cosa closing because of pandemic uncertainty

After 35 years in business, Tucson's beloved Cafe Poca Cosa announced plans to close due to coronavirus concerns and the corresponding economic downturn of Tucson's service industry.

Owner Suzana Davila said after giving her "heart and soul" to Cafe Poca Cosa over the years, she is choosing to shut her restaurant down after experiencing "many months of great anxiety" because of the pandemic's impact on the cost of operating an eating establishment with limited occupancy.

“Clearly, this is not how I imagined my business would culminate. I always envisioned passing the business on to my hardworking children who have been actively involved in the business for many years”, said Davila. “The continued threat of Covid to the restaurant and hospitality industry is ever-present. With fixed costs of doing business and rising food costs, along with restrictive seating limits, we just do not see a profitable way of continuing."

Originally located in a small space at Scott Avenue And Congress Street, Cafe Poca Cosa earned a name for itself serving fantastic Mexican culinary wonders that became a destination for foodies from around the world. Davilla, with her sisters Marcela and Sandra, helped put Tucson on the culinary map long before UNESCO came calling.

"I feel incredibly privileged to have been part of our wonderful downtown for all these years," Davilla said. "I would like to thank the people of Tucson for all the goodwill and assistance they have provided over the years."

Earlier in the week, Public Brewhouse closed after more than five years of selling unique craft beers just off of Fourth Avenue. Citing COVID-19 as a primary contributor to their closing, the "nanobrewery" thanked locals for the years of support.

While Public Brewhouse offered a wide variety of beers from seasonal stouts to Sonoran sours, they also carved out a niche for themselves with trivia nights, board games and live music.

“Our name, Public, comes from the idea that a pub is a public house. We really wanted to create an environment people feel comfortable coming into," head brewer Mike Gura previously told the Tucson Weekly.

Shortly before the pandemic hit, Public Brewhouse expanded in February with a sister location, Public Taphouse at 6720 E. Camino Principal, which remains on COVID hiatus.

More classes underway at UA as cases decline

The University of Arizona will allow students to attend in-person classes of 30 students or fewer this week, UA President Robert C. Robbins said in a news conference Monday, Oct. 12.

The change will bring 1,500 more students to campus every week, and classes will continue “if and only if” public health data gauging the spread of coronavirus in the county permits, Robbins said.

The university first predicted 2,500 students would return to class as it moves into Phase 2 of its reopening plan, but fewer students wanted to return than expected.

“Students and their instructors had the opportunity to evaluate what they wanted, and in the spirit of shared governance, make collective decisions about how to proceed at this point,” Robbins said. “There are many, many students who want that in-person interaction . . . but obviously, there are people who don’t want it.”

From Oct. 1-10, UA found 42 positive coronavirus cases after administering 6,963 tests for a positivity rate of 0.6%, down from 2.3% in the previous 10-day period.

“What we’ve been able to show over the last two, four weeks . . . is an ability of how we respond,” Pima County Health Department Director Dr. Theresa Cullen said at the press conference. “We’ve developed this deep collaboration, transparency, sharing of data, sharing resources and a recognition that working together is required for us to combat this pandemic.”

More details here.

Get tested: Pima County opening new downtown testing center, UA offering antibody testing

The Pima County Health Department will be opening a new COVID-19 testing site downtown today, Friday, Oct. 16. The new Downtown Tucson Testing Center will be located at 88 E. Broadway Blvd., on the southwest corner of Broadway and Sixth Ave. Testing will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Testing is available without an appointment, or by appointment at

With workday testing available around lunch time, the county health department hopes this new site will serve as a resource for downtown employees. As with other county testing locations, the tests will be conducted by Paradigm Laboratories, and results will be available online in 72 hours or less.

“Quick and accessible testing is a key factor in helping businesses protect their employees and patrons as the pandemic continues,” said PCHD director Dr. Theresa Cullen in a press release. “We want to do all that we can to support businesses as they get back on their feet.”

The county has three other free testing centers with easy-to-schedule appointments—often with same-day availability—with results in 24 to 72 hours.

You’ll have a nasal swab test at the Kino Event Center, 2805 E. Ajo Way, and the Udall Center, 7200 E. Tanque Verde Road. The center at the northside Ellie Towne Flowing Wells Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road, involves a saliva test designed by ASU.

The University of Arizona’s antibody testing has been opened to all Arizonans as the state attempts to get a handle on how many people have been exposed to COVID-19 but were asymptomatic or otherwise did not get a test while they were ill.

To sign up for testing, visit

—with additional reporting from Nicole Ludden, Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner and Mike Truelsen