Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Tuesday, Jan. 26: Pima County Awaits More Vaccine Supply; Hospitals See Slight Decrease in Patients but Pressure Remains High; 209 New Deaths Today Brings Total Toll to Nearly 12,500

With 4,748 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases surpassed 732,000 as of Tuesday, Jan 26, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 560 new cases today, has seen 98,034 of the state’s 732,643 confirmed cases.

A total of 12,448 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 1,649 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. 25, 4,221 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 1,734 people visited emergency rooms on Jan. 25 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 1,028 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Jan. 25, 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.

Pima County needs more vaccine

As Pima County continues to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations at five different distribution sites, it needs a lot more vaccine to adequately immunize the population.

The county usually receives about 12,500 doses per week but has been expecting larger allocations from the state to keep up with demand.

At a press conference Friday, Pima County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia said the county is expecting 29,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week. Garcia contends the county’s current infrastructure can “easily handle” 100,000 vaccines a week.

As of Sunday, the county received 107,000 doses and was allocated 136,100 from the state.

Pima County administered 71,890 total doses as of Sunday, for a vaccination rate of 6,882 per 100,000 of the population.

A total of 58,629 individuals received their first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, while 13,051 had received the two doses needed to be considered fully immunized.

While the Pima County Health Department maintains it has the necessary infrastructure to administer more than 775,000 doses by the end of March, according to its accelerated immunization plan, they don’t have enough vaccine doses.

Maricopa County has administered 210,732 doses of vaccine as of Sunday and plans to have two 24-hour vaccination sites, State Farm Stadium in Glendale, which opened on Jan. 11, and Phoenix Municipal Stadium, set to open Feb. 1.

Other Arizona counties, including Pima, are struggling with the demand for vaccines outstripping the depleted supply, and the allocation process, which is being created without transparency from the state.

“We are grateful, but I have to tell you that this is far insufficient for what we need. This is not nearly enough vaccination for us to be able to meet the needs of this county,” Garica said. “We continue to advocate every single day to the state health department, to the governor's office, to our congressional delegation, that the sole rate-limiting step in the equation at this time is vaccine supply, and that it is imperative that Pima County get its fair share. From my perspective, that should be about 15% of the state allocation, and we are short of that.”

More details here.

UA delivering vaccinations, resuming mostly virtual classes

The University of Arizona is Pima County’s vaccine distribution point for educators, and according to the university's President Dr. Robert C. Robbins, it delivered 1,296 doses through Friday, Jan. 22.

On Friday, 150 individuals were vaccinated at the university’s drive-thru location, and 198 at its walk-up location, according to Robbins.

On Monday, Robbins said university officials project delivering 800 vaccines—400 at its drive-thru site and 400 at its walk-up location. They expect to deliver the same amount Tuesday.

Robbins said less than one-third of the vaccine the university receives will be allocated to its own staff.

However, the UA president noted there’s a huge difference between vaccine supply and the demand for it.

This week, Pima County is expecting 29,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, a far cry from the state allocation it needs to vaccinate those eligible in its current phase 1B priority of vaccine rollout. The eligible group is estimated to include 150,000 educators, protective service workers and individuals over 75.

“Per population, we're getting about 28,000 doses a week. Based on the demand we have here, we could deliver between (50,000) to 75,000 visits a week,” Robbins said. “So everyone, please be patient with us. We're trying our best, the county is absolutely doing the best they can.”

Even with some receiving the coronavirus vaccine, he said “We can't vaccinate our way out” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Robbins, although other COVID-19 indicators like hospitalizations have dropped, Pima County is still seeing about 1,100 cases every day.

Arizona still has the highest transmission rate of the virus in the country, with 95 cases per 100,000 of the population, according to CDC data.

Given the alarming numbers, the university will continue stage one of its reentry plan with in-person instruction for only essential courses at least through the week of Feb. 1, Robbins said.

From Jan. 15 through 24, UA administered 10,480 COVID-19 tests and found 206 positive cases for a positivity rating of 2%.

“We can't be complacent just because the numbers are looking fairly reasonable, we're below the threshold of 5%,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, the reentry task force director and former U.S. surgeon general. “We still have a pandemic that's raging in our community, and we are number one in the country. Every single one of us needs to comply because we're all inextricably tied together.”

More details here.

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

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 Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner, Nicole Ludden and Mike Truelsen