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The number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases closed in on 203,000 as of Wednesday, Sept. 2, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County had seen 21,294 of the state’s 202,861 confirmed cases.

A total of 5,044 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 576 deaths in Pima County, according to the Sept. 2 report. 

The number of hospitalized COVID cases continues to decline. ADHS reported that as of Sept. 1, 752 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state, up from the day before when 729 were hospitalized. That was the lowest that number has been since May 10, when 717 COVID patients were hospitalized.. That number peaked at 3,517 on July 13. 

A total of 871 people visited ERs on Sept. 1 with COVID symptoms. That number is also up from 832 the day before, which was the lowest that number has been since June 7, when 815 people visited ERs. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7.

A total of 248 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Sept. 1, the lowest that number has been since April 9, when 248 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 keeps reentry plan on pause

The University of Arizona administration announced they will continue to delay their staged reopening plan and remain in Stage 1 of the reopening (essential in-person classes only) during the third week of instruction, which begins Monday, 7. 

Stage 2 was originally set to begin on Aug. 31 and would have allowed small classes to resume in person, bringing another 9,000 people to campus. 

Out of more than 11,300 antigen tests performed in the university community between July 31 and Aug. 31, the UA has uncovered 103 positive COVID-19 cases.. 

The university is using far more antigen tests—which are less expensive and produce rapid results—than traditional PCR tests, which can take 48 hours or longer to produce results. There has been controversy over the effectiveness of antigen testing. During the same time period, the university conducted 442 PCR and reported two positive COVID-19 results. 

At a press conference yesterday, UA President Robert C. Robbins said the university was working with the Tucson Police Department and the Tucson City Council ward offices to respond to reports of parties in neighborhoods around the university.

“We encourage everyone: Please do not have large gatherings,” Robbins said. “We know that is ripe for transmission of this deadly virus.”

For more information, visit covid19.arizona.edu/updates.

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.

If you’re interested in a test to determine if you’ve already had COVID-19, the UA has expanded a free COVID-19 antibody testing program to include 15 new categories of essential workers considered at high risk for exposure. The antibody test, developed by researchers at UA Health Sciences, determines who has been exposed to and developed an immune response against COVID-19.

In addition to healthcare workers and first responders, the test program is now open to educators, childcare workers, agriculture, grocery and foodservice workers, hospitality employees, solid-waste collection workers, transportation services workers and members of the National Guard. More information and registration for the test is available at covid19antibodytesting.arizona.edu.

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

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