Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Thursday, April 1: Deaths approach 17K; Here’s how to set up vaccine appointments, COVID tests

With 381 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 842,000 as of Thursday, April 1, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 30 new cases today, has seen 112,707 of the state’s 842,192 confirmed cases.

With 10 new deaths reported this morning, a total of 16,997 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 2,350 deaths in Pima County, according to the April 1 report.

A total of 604 coronavirus patients were in the hospital as of March 31. That’s roughly 12% of the number hospitalized at the peak of the winter surge, which reached 5,082 on Jan. 11. The summer peak was 3,517, which was set on July 13, 2020. The subsequent lowest number of hospitalized COVID patients was 468, set on Sept. 27, 2020.

A total of 1,016 people visited emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on March 31. That number represents 43% of 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, 2020; it hit a subsequent low of 653 on Sept. 28, 2020.

A total of 168 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on March 31, which roughly 14% of the record 1,183 ICU patients set on Jan. 11. The summer’s record number of patients in ICU beds was 970, set on July 13, 2020. The subsequent low was 114 on Sept. 22, 2020.

Adults older than 16 now eligible for appointments at state vaccine centers; Pima County expands eligibility to anyone with chronic medical condition

All adults older than 16 are now eligible for appointments at state vaccination PODs.

Previously, vaccines were limited to people 55 and older as well as frontline workers, educators, first responders and healthcare workers.

New appointments for the UA POD will open up at 11 a.m. on Fridays, with the Arizona Department of Health Services announcing the number of appointments opening up on Fridays via a Wednesday Twitter post.

As of last week, Pima County expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to anyone 55 and older and anyone older than 16 with at-risk circumstances.

Anyone living with a high-risk medical condition or disability, experiencing homelessness or living in a group setting, or receiving in-home or long-term care can get the vaccine. Some of the high-risk medical conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, heart conditions or compromised immunity.

Those in high-risk jobs will also be eligible.

Although the state has expanded eligibility to anyone over 16, Pima County's guidelines had to be limited, said Dr. Theresa Cullen, Health Department director.

“Our decisions are based on the current vaccination rates for 55 and up (which is at 42%), as well as our commitment to ensure ongoing access to vulnerable populations,” Cullen said last week. “We anticipate appointments will be filled quickly and as we move these groups, we look forward to being able to align with the state's recommendations within the next six weeks.”

You can register for your vaccine appointments at a state POD by visiting pod vaccine.azdhs.gov, and those who need assistance can call 1-844-542-8201.

Those who qualify in Pima County’s priority group of eligible vaccine recipients can register for a vaccine at www.pima.gov/covid19vaccineregistration or by calling 520-222-0119.

Many local pharmacies are now receiving vaccine doses. To find one near you, visit the ADHS website.

ADHS will now announce on Wednesdays via Twitter, @AZDHS, and Facebook the approximate number of first-dose appointments available. The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) will release those new COVID-19 vaccination appointments every Friday.

Get tested: Pima County has free COVID testing

Pima County is continuing to offer a number of testing centers around town.

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.

Schedule an appointment at these or other drive-thru or pop-up sites at pima.gov/covid19testing.

The University of Arizona’s antibody testing can determine if you have had COVID and now have antibodies. To sign up for testing, visit https://covid19antibodytesting.arizona.edu/home.


—with additional reporting from Austin Counts, Christina Duran, Jeff Gardner and Mike Truelsen