THE LOCAL NUMBERS. The number of Arizona's confirmed novel coronavirus cases passed 199,000 as of Tuesday, Aug. 25, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Pima County had seen 20,919 of the state's 199,273 confirmed cases. A total of 4,792 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 553 in Pima County, according to the Aug. 25 report. Meanwhile, the number of hospitalized COVID cases continues to decline. ADHS reported that as of Aug. 24, 999 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. That number peaked at 3,517 on July 13. A total of 900 people visited ERs on Aug. 24 with COVID symptoms. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7. A total of 319 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Aug. 24. The number in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13. In Pima County, the week-by-week counting of cases peaked the week ending July 4 with 2,398 cases, according to an Aug. 19 report from the Pima County Health Department. Those numbers have dropped with Pima County requiring the wearing of masks in public but they have plateaued in recent weeks, with 832 cases in the week ending Aug. 8 and 819 cases in the week ending Aug. 15. (Not all recent cases may have been reported.) Deaths in Pima County are down from a peak of 54 in the week ending July 4 to 19 for the week ending Aug. 8.
THE NATIONAL NUMBERS. Nationwide, more than 5.7 million people had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which had killed more than 177,000 people in the United States as of Monday, Aug. 24, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University.
DUCEY: "STAY THE COURSE." In a brief press conference last week, Gov. Doug Ducey thanked the Trump administration, local authorities and the National Guard for their work during the pandemic. Ducey said the state was making progress in the fight against the virus and Arizonans should continue taking precautions such as avoiding large gatherings, staying home when possible, washing hands and wearing a mask. He did not announce any plans to reopen nightclubs, gyms, theaters or other businesses closed by his executive order, but his administration has established metrics to guide when those businesses can safely reopen their doors. "We're going to continue to be guided by the data and the doctors," Ducey said. "Returning our kids to the classroom, reuniting with our loved ones, all of these depend on continued responsible behavior you have demonstrated so well for so long. So I urge everyone to stay the course, stay physical distanced, stay smart and healthy and continue to mask up."
AZ UNEMPLOYMENT NUMBERS CREEP UPWARD. Arizona's unemployment numbers crept up in July, with the unemployment rate climbing to 10.6 percent from 10 percent in June. Gov. Ducey has accepted the Trump administration's offer of an additional $300 a week for people who receive the state's $240 a week for unemployment. That's a drop from the $600 a week that was available through the end of July and unemployed Arizonans in non-traditional employment such as the gig sector are not eligible for the payments, although they were eligible for the federal payment of $600 a week. Congressional Democrats and the Trump administration were unable to reach a deal to extend those benefits.
ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE. The City of Tucson has allocated $4.5 million of federal CARES Act funding for an emergency rent and utility assistance program available to city residents. To be eligible for the financial assistance, participating renters must have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the household income cannot exceed $68,400. Each household can receive up to $2,500 to cover up to three months of late or upcoming rent or utility payments that were incurred after March 1, 2020. The application process is open and renters are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Visit tucsonaz.gov/hcd/rent-help to complete an application. If you need assistance or are unable to complete the application online, call (520) 837-5364 or email email@example.com. The city is also setting aside $3 million of CARES Act funding to be distributed to local workers and families that have been negatively impacted by the crisis. The grant program, named the "We Are One | Somos Unos Resiliency Fund" will focus on individuals and households that have not received any state or federal COVID-19 relief money and whose income does not reach Pima County's self-sufficiency standard.
GET TESTED: Pima County has three free testing centers with easy-to-schedule appointments—often with same-day availability—and you get results in less than 72 hours. Centers offering a nasal swab are 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 pima.gov/covid19testing. The centers are also tied into Pima County's developing contact tracing operation, which aims to be able to identify potential clusters and warn people if they have been in contact with someone who is COVID-positive.
—By Jim Nintzel with additional reporting from Kathleen B. Kunz, Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner and Tara Foulkrod.