With more than 9,900 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 596,000 as of Friday, Jan 8, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Pima County, which reported 1,336 new cases today, has seen 79,190 of the state’s 596,251 confirmed cases.
A total of 9,938 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 1,216 deaths in Pima County, according to the Jan. 8 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. 7, 4,907 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state, a slight drop from yesterday’s record 4,920. 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 2,188 people visited emergency rooms on Jan. 7 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 record number of 1,122 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Jan. 7. 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 the highest rate of COVID infection in the world.
The website 91-divoc.com, which uses data from Johns Hopkins University, reports that Arizona is seeing a record 126.4 infections per 100,000 people on a seven-day average, compared to 69.3 infections per 100,000 for the United States as a whole.
Bars sue over Pima County curfew
Several Tucson-based bars and restaurants have filed litigation against Pima County in attempts to overturn its mandatory 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew they say disproportionately affects the private sector of businesses that depend on revenue from operations during these hours.
Owners of Cobra Arcade Bar, HighWire Lounge and The Maverick have joined in a lawsuit against Pima County and several county representatives they say are responsible for the curfew passed Dec. 15, including County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry and the board of supervisors who voted 3-2 to instate it.
Huckelberry proposed the curfew as the coronavirus pandemic continued to set records for both infections and deaths, which have been far surpassed since the beginning of December.
In his memo arguing for the mandatory curfew, Huckelberry said 46 Pima County inspectors observed nearly 400 establishments for compliance to the previously voluntary curfew and found 15% of them didn’t comply.
“Spread of Covid-19 is particularly common during indoor gatherings such as at bars and parties,” Huckelberry wrote in the memo. “Adherence to strategies like mask-wearing and social distancing is lower at these gatherings, and given the colder nighttime temperatures, people are more likely to gather indoors during those times.”
Under the curfew ordinance approved by the board, any nonessential businesses found violating the curfew may have their business permit suspended or revoked.
The curfew is set to end when the rate of COVID-19 transmission falls below 100 cases per 100,000 of the population. Yesterday, the county saw 7,453 coronavirus cases per 100,000 individuals.
The bars contend the mandatory curfew set in place by the county on Dec. 15 decimated their already constrained business operations during the main hours they generate revenue.
“We assume COVID doesn't know what time of day it is, and we don't know why the safety procedures that we have in place at 9 p.m. aren't sufficient any longer at 11 p.m,” Cobra Arcade owner Chuckie Duff said. “It feels like they're targeting specific businesses that make the revenue after 10 p.m. when we don't operate any differently than a restaurant that's serving brunch...It just feels like we're being unfairly punished and marginalized.”
Progress on vaccine distribution in Pima County
As early as next week, the groups of essential workers and those older than 75 included in the next phase of Pima County’s vaccine distribution plan may have access to the COVID-19 vaccine, the Pima County Health Department announced at a press conference this week.
Pima County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia said the county anticipates rolling out phase 1B of vaccinations at the end of next week.
Phase 1B includes the vaccination of 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 over 75.
Those who qualify in phase 1B can pre-register here.
Every county in Arizona except Pinal and Gila is currently in phase 1A of the vaccination process, which includes healthcare workers, emergency medical service workers, and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.
However, the health department warns there are “hundreds of thousands” of individuals encompassed in the 1B category, and estimate vaccinating the upcoming group could take until the end of March.
Get tested: Pima County has free COVID testing
Pima County offers a number of testing centers around town.
You’ll have a nasal swab test at the Kino Event Center (2805 E. Ajo Way) the Udall Center (7200 E. Tanque Verde Road) and downtown (88 E. Broadway).
The center at the northside Ellie Towne Flowing Wells Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road, involves a saliva test designed by ASU.
In addition, the Pima County Health Department, Pima Community College and Arizona State University have partnered to create new drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites at three Pima Community College locations. At the drive-thru sites, COVID-19 testing will be offered through spit samples instead of nasal canal swabs. Each site will conduct testing from 9 a.m. to noon, and registration is required in advance. Only patients 5 years or older can be tested.
Schedule an appointment at these or other pop-up sites at pima.gov/covid19testing.
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 https://covid19antibodytesting.arizona.edu/home.
—with additional reporting from Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner, Nicole Ludden and Mike Truelsen