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With 728 new cases today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 204,000 as of Friday, Sept. 4, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.


Pima County had seen 21,574 of the state’s 204,681 confirmed cases.


A total of 5,171 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 593 deaths in Pima County, according to the Sept. 4 report. 


The number of hospitalized COVID cases continues to decline from July peaks. ADHS reported that as of Sept. 3, 742 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. That number peaked at 3,517 on July 13. 


A total of 814 people visited emergency rooms on Sept. 3 with COVID symptoms, the lowest that number has been since June 4, when 725 COVID patients visited ERs. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7.


A total of 236 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Sept. 3, the lowest that number has been since April 8, when 155 people were in ICU. The number of COVID patients 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. 26 report from the Pima County Health Department. Those numbers have dropped with Pima County requiring the wearing of masks in public but they have bumped upward recent weeks, with 804 cases in the week ending Aug. 8 and 930 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 35 for the week ending Aug. 8 and 15 for the week ending Aug. 15. 


Hospitalization peaked the week ending July 18 with 247 COVID patients admitted to Pima County hospitals. For the week ending Aug. 15, 63 COVID patients were admitted to Pima County hospitals.


UA antibody testing open to all


The FDA gave approval to the University of Arizona’s antibody test. As a result, the testing has now been opened to all Arizonans as the state attempts to get 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 covid19antibodytesting.arizona.edu/home.


Benchmarks met to allow schools to begin hybrid learning


Pima County yesterday reached benchmarks indicating that it has moved from “substantial” spread of the coronavirus to “moderate” spread, meaning local school districts can now consider hybrid learning that would allow some students to return to the classroom while others continue distance learning.


Pima County has had less than 100 cases per 100,000 individuals for two consecutive weeks; two straight weeks with the percentage of positive tests below 7 percent; and two consecutive weeks with the total of people visiting hospitals with COVID-like symptoms at less than 10 percent of the total number of people seeking medical attention.


Local school district boards will have to consider the new numbers before making decisions as to how to proceed following the Labor Day holiday.


 Ducey: Get a Flu Shot


Gov. Doug Ducey and public health experts are asking Arizonans to get a flu shot to help keep hospital capacity low and available for those with COVID.


The governor said the Arizona Department of Health Services will be implementing an aggressive plan of action during this flu season by distributing the vaccination for free to all Arizonans through doctor’s offices, pharmacies, local health departments and community healthcare centers statewide.


“We don’t want cost to be something that gets in the way of this,” Gov. Ducey said during Monday’s press conference. “If you are uninsured or underinsured we want you to get a flu shot and it’s the best thing you can do to add more help to our situation in Arizona.”


Gov. Ducey said the overlap with COVID produces greater challenges than a typical flu season and preventing the flu is more important than ever. More than 4,000 people were hospitalized with flu symptoms in Arizona last year and roughly 700 people die from the illness each year, according to the governor. 


The state will reimburse Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System providers offering free flu shots to AHCCCS members, while giving AHCCCS members a $10 gift card for their troubles after they've been vaccinated, said Gov. Ducey. The governor announced he is also allowing certified pharmacists the ability to administer the vaccine to AHCCCS-enrolled children. 


“These actions have led to a 50 percent increase of flu shot administration rates in other states,” Gov. Ducey said. “We’re confident they’ll make a big difference in Arizona as well.”


Certain COVID-19 testing sites will also offer flu shots to those getting tested for coronavirus in starting in September, said Gov. Ducey. The Arizona Department of Health Services will expand online resources to help the public find free vaccine distribution locations as well as help businesses set up their own flu shot clinics for employees, according to the governor. 


“I want to emphasize Arizona’s most important partner in this fight is you, the people of Arizona” Gov. Ducey said. “You’ve made a big difference in where we are today and you could make a huge difference in where we’ll be tomorrow going forward.”


Get tested: Pima County has several testing centers


Pima County has three free testing centers with easy-to-schedule appointments—often with same-day availability—with results in 48 to 72 hours. 


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 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.


—with additional reporting from Kathleen B. Kunz, Austin Counts and Jeff Gardner


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