Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Monday, April 5: Pima County opens vaccination to anyone 16 and older; Cases bump upward as variant strains spread; Here’s how to set up vaccine appointments, COVID tests

With 608 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases neared 845,000 as of Monday, April 5, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 72 new cases today, has seen 113,102 of the state’s 844,910 confirmed cases.

With no new deaths reported this morning, a total of 16,990 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 2,359 deaths in Pima County, according to the April 5 report.

A total of 516 coronavirus patients were in the hospital as of April 4. That’s roughly 10% 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 722 people visited emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on April 4. That number represents 31% 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 148 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on April 4, which roughly 12.5% 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.

Health officials seeing slight bump in COVID cases after Ducey lifts restrictions

After Gov. Doug Ducey recently began lifting COVID restrictions, Arizona reversed a trend of 10 straight weeks of declining cases and saw a slight bump in coronavirus cases, following a national trend of higher cases and hospitalizations, according to an April 1 memo from Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

“The state is reporting its first increase in the number of cases, 4,183 last week compared to 3,876 the week before,” Huckleberry wrote in a memo to the board regarding Pia County’s facemask regulations. “A similar trend is now being seen in Pima County with 569 cases reported last week compared to 462 the week prior. Additionally, after seven consecutive weeks of decline in COVID deaths, Pima County reported 18 deaths compared to 15 deaths the week before. These still represent relatively minor increases, but the Health Department is concerned that this is consistent with a national trend.”

Huckleberry said the increase could be connected to the different variant strains and noted that both the UK and Brazilian variants have been detected in Pima County’s wastewater monitoring, though only the UK variant has been discovered through COVID testing.

“This type of variant expansion is not uncommon or unexpected, but it does create greater urgency in order to achieve a level of community immunity before new variants take hold,” Huckleberry said.

Huckleberry noted as of last week, more than 190,000 Pima County residents were fully vaccinated and the county was on track to vaccinate 75% of the population by the end of summer.

“We are very close to returning to a level of normalcy, however this process will be delayed if infection rates increase significantly,” Huckleberry said. “We clearly need to continue all mitigation measures, including the wearing of a mask.”

Adults older than 16 now eligible for appointments at state and county clinics

As of today, Pima County joins the state of Arizona in opening vaccine appointments to anyone 16 or older.

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

Register for an appointment at a Pima County POD at or by calling 520-222-0119.

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

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

The University of Arizona’s antibody testing can determine if you have had COVID and now have antibodies. To sign up for testing, visit

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