Fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities without wearing a mask and physical distancing in indoor or outdoor settings, in most cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated public health guidance released Thursday.
“Today brings more encouraging news for those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — and another reason for everyone else to get their shot,” wrote Arizona Department of Health Services Dr. Cara Christ on Thursday's blog post. “This is a very big step toward returning to our pre-pandemic way of life.”
But the Pima County’s mask mandate remains in effect, which does not differentiate between fully and non-vaccinated individuals.
The Board of Supervisors is seeking legal guidance from the County Attorney’s Office and should be reviewing the recommendation with the Health Department to advise the board of supervisors, according to Chair Sharon Bronson.
The Board of Supervisors will meet today at 3 p.m. to discuss the updated CDC guidance.
Supervisor Adelita Grijalva said she was still reviewing the new guidelines. She said she was unsure whether changes would be made without more people getting vaccinated, with a goal to reach 75% of the population to achieve herd immunity.
In Arizona, 3,098,785 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered, with 43.1% of Arizonans fully vaccinated. Christ notes in her blog that the CDC’s announcement comes the same day as children across the nation ages 12 to 15 may receive the Pfizer vaccine, which could potentially add more fully vaccinated individuals.
According to CDC’s updated guidance, fully vaccinated individuals can go unmasked in an indoor high-intensity exercise class, a full-capacity worship service or a crowded, outdoor event, such as a concert or sporting event. However, they are still subject to federal, state or local jurisdictions laws and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
Also, fully vaccinated individuals traveling in the U.S., no longer need to get tested before or after travel, or self-quarantine after travel. Those boarding an international flight to the U.S., however, must show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery before boarding. Self-quarantine is no longer required after arriving in the U.S. Individuals are still required to wear a mask on public transportation traveling into, within or out of the U.S. in places like planes, buses and trains, as well as airports and stations.
Additionally, the CDC advises individuals to watch for COVID-19 symptoms, especially if around someone who is sick. If displaying symptoms, people should get tested and stay home and away from others.
The CDC also notes that even fully vaccinated individuals who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may need to continue taking all precautions to prevent contracting COVID-19 and advises they speak with their healthcare provider to discuss their activities.
Ducey cutting off federal unemployment aid
Arizona will no longer provide the weekly $300 federal supplement for unemployed workers during the pandemic, Gov. Doug Ducey said on Thursday.
With his “Arizona Back-to-Work” Plan, thousands of Arizonans on unemployment will return to receiving the maximum $240 on July 10.
Several other states announced they also would stop taking the federal pandemic unemployment benefits, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, extended in March through the American Rescue Plan, provided an additional weekly $300 to cover freelancers, part-timers and anyone who did not qualify for regular unemployment and extended the benefit for an additional 24 weeks. The program is set to end on Sept. 4.
Instead, Ducey will use $300 million in federal money to encourage Arizonans to rejoin the workforce. The plan is a one-time $2,000 bonus for full-time workers and a $1,000 bonus for those who return part-time.
People will receive the bonus after they stop filing for unemployment benefits and complete 10 weeks of work with an employer. The bonuses are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
To qualify, an individual must have already filed for unemployment benefits, meaning anyone who files after May 13 will not be eligible. Individuals must also make $25 per hour or less - about $52,000 a year - at their new job and must begin working by Sept. 6.
“In Arizona, we’re going to use federal money to encourage people to work…instead of paying people not to work,” Ducey said.
Honest Arizona, a progressive grassroots coalition representing “everyday Arizonans,” opposes Ducey's decision.
“While many Arizonans have not yet recovered from the pandemic, Governor Ducey's decision to slash unemployment benefits is a major blow to thousands of Arizonans who lost their jobs and are still looking for work,” said Honest Arizona Executive Director Niles Harris. “Leaders from both parties voted to extend unemployment benefits for out-of-work Arizonans to help pay their bills, provide for their families and stay in their homes. This decision cuts more than half of the weekly assistance provided to Arizonans and is a devastating blow to struggling families.”
Vaccine sites across town
Pima County and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have launched mobile vaccination units to reach vulnerable communities with high risks of COVID-19 exposure and infection.
The sites offer walk-up vaccinations of both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine for those 18 and older on a first-come, first-served basis. Vaccinators will return to the same mobile site 28 days after their first visit to receive their second dose, following CDC guidance. Help will be available to all who need assistance with mobility, language or other accommodations.
This weekend’s clinics:
Friday, May 14
- Fox Tucson Theater, 17 W. Congress St., 4 – 8 p.m.
Saturday, May 15
- Our Lady of Fatima Parish, 1950 Irvington Place, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
- Dunbar Pavilion, 325 W. 2nd St., 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
- Robles Ranch Community Center, 16150 W. Ajo Way, Robles Junction, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 15 - Monday, May 17
- Curtis Park, 2110 W. Curtis Road, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Rillito Race Track, 4502 N. 1st Ave., 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 16
- Sacred Heart Church, 601 E. Fort Lowell Road, 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Tucson Medical Center has a vaccination site at the Udall Center, 7200 E. Tanque Verde Road. The site is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Register at https://vaccine.tmcaz.com/MyChart/OpenScheduling.
Pima County has an indoor vaccine site at the Kino Event Center, where the county had earlier been doing COVID testing. That site is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Register at azdhs.gov.
The county has also opened an indoor vaccination POD at El Pueblo Center, 101 W. Irvington Road, which is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. No appointment is necessary.
Visit pima.gov/covid19vaccine for more details.
The UA vaccination point of distribution is now accepting anyone 12 and older who comes in for a shot.
The POD, which is scheduled to close at the end of June, offers a sit-down clinic in the Ina E. Gittings Building (1737 E. University Blvd.) from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
If you’d rather schedule an appointment, the state is expected to open new first-dose appointments daily at podvaccine.azdhs.gov. Call 602-542-1000 or 844-542-8201 for help in English or Spanish.
If you need help, call the COVID Ambassador Team hotline at 520-848-4045 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CVS pharmacies are now accepting same-day COVID-19 vaccination appointments, and at some locations no appointment is necessary.
About 190 locations in Arizona are taking walk-ins, but appointments are also available within an hour of scheduling.
Walgreens is offering same-day appointments at locations across the country. Patients can schedule appointments up to 30 minutes before the desired appointment time.
While Walgreens continues to encourage appointments, a Walgreens corporate spokesperson said, walk-ins have and continue to be accepted “if a time slot is available,” across all 8,800 Walgreens stores offering vaccinations.
As of Friday, May 14, 419392 people in Pima County had received at least one shot of the virus, accounting for 40.1% of the population. A total of 356,837 people were fully vaccinated.
Get tested: Pima County has free COVID testing
Pima County is continuing to offer a number of testing centers and pop-up testing sites around town, including the northside Ellie Towne Flowing Wells Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road. Schedule an appointment 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 854 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases rose past 872,000 as of Friday, May 14, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Pima County, which reported 1 new case today, has seen 115,906 of the state’s 872,022 confirmed cases.
With 9 new deaths reported this morning, a total of 17,447 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 2,407 deaths in Pima County, according to the May 14 report.
A total of 594 coronavirus patients were in the hospital as of May 13. That’s roughly 11.5 % of the number hospitalized at the peak of the winter surge, which reached 5,082 on Jan. 12. 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 927 people visited emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on May 13. That number represents 40% 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 193 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on May 13, which roughly 16% 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.
—with additional reporting from Christina Duran, Jeff Gardner and Mike Truelsen