With 863 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases closed in on 223,000 as of Thursday, Oct. 8, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
With 125 new cases today, Pima County had seen 26,217 of the state’s 223,401 confirmed cases.
With 10 new deaths today, a total of 5,743 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 630 deaths in Pima County, according to the Oct. 8 report.
The number of hospitalized COVID cases continues to decline from July peaks but has steadily creeped upward this week. ADHS reported that as of Oct. 7, 728 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state, an increase of . While that number has increased by 183 since Saturday, Oct. 3, it’s still far below the peak of 3,517 hospitalized COVID patients set on July 13.
A total of 744 people visited emergency rooms on Oct. 7 with COVID symptoms. That number, which peaked at 2,008 on July 7, has also been on the rise this week.
A total of 156 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Oct. 7, up from 133 on Saturday, Oct. 3. The number of COVID patients in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13.
On a week-by-week basis in Pima County, the number of positive COVID tests peaked the week ending July 4 with 2,453 cases, according to an Oct. 7 report from the Pima County Health Department. With the return of UA students, local numbers ticked upward in September but have begun to decline again. For the week ending Sept. 5, a total of 863 cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 12, 1,105 cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 19, 1,219 cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 26, 582 cases were reported; for the week ending Oct. 3, 472 cases were reported. (Recent weeks are subject to revision.)
Deaths in Pima County are down from a peak of 54 in the week ending July 4 to 10 in the week ending Sept. 5, one in the week ending Sept. 12, three in the week ending Sept. 19, two in the week ending Sept. 26 and one in the week ending Oct. 3. (Recent weeks are subject to revision.)
Hospitalization peaked the week ending July 18 with 221 COVID patients admitted to Pima County hospitals. In the week ending Aug. 29, 37 COVID patients were admitted to Pima County hospitals; in the week ending Sept. 5, 26 patients were admitted to Pima County hospitals; in the week ending Sept. 12, 23 patients were admitted; in the week ending Sept. 19, 14 patients were admitted; in the week ending Sept. 26, 11 people were admitted and in the week ending Oct. 3, 17 patients were admitted. (Recent weeks are subject to revision.)
CDC report supports use of masks, physical distancing
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examines how effective Arizona’s mitigation measures were on stopping the increase of COVID-19. The report, which tracked case numbers from Jan. 22 to Aug. 7, shows a clear correlation in reduced virus cases after face masks and social distancing were mandated.
In Arizona, the average number of daily virus cases increased approximately 151% after the statewide stay-at-home order was lifted in mid-May, with Gov. Doug Ducey declaring “we are clearly on the other side of this pandemic.”
According to CDC data, two weeks after Arizona's stay-at-home orders were first lifted on May 15, daily new COVID cases increased from 808 on June 1 to 2,026 on June 15. This led to a peak in cases from June 29 to July 2. Cases then began to reduce after Ducey allowed local officials to implement their own mandates on June 17. The ensuing local policies were applicable to approximately 85% of the total Arizona population.
COVID-19 cases then declined by approximately 75% following "sustained prevention efforts" across Arizona. These prevention efforts include wearing masks, limiting public events and closing certain businesses such as bars, movie theaters and gyms. Due to the infection cycle of the virus, case increases and reductions are delayed by an average of two weeks after mandates change.
TUSD delays return to in-person instruction
The Tucson Unified School District’s governing board this week approved a new hybrid learning model for returning to classes but delayed voting on when to implement it.
In a 4-1 vote, the board approved the new model but decided to delay voting on a return date until the next TUSD board meeting Oct. 27.
Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo asked board members to consider a new start date of Nov. 12, dependent on Pima County data tracking the spread of coronavirus in the county.
University cases on the decline
This week, the University of Arizona will remain in phase one of their staged plan for reopening but anticipates moving into phase two of the plan next week, UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins said in a news conference this morning.
Phase one allows students to attend essential in-person classes only, but the university plans to add in-person instruction for classes of 30 or fewer students the week of Oct. 12.
According to Robbins, about 2,500 additional students will have the option to attend in-person classes, and the new opportunity only applies to those who signed up for in-person classes during the registration period at the beginning of the school year.
Phase 2 was originally set to begin on Aug. 31, but the high numbers of positive coronavirus cases delayed the step toward having more in-person classes on campus.
Since Aug. 24, about 6,200 UA students have attended essential in-person courses.
UA football coach tests positive for coronavirus
University of Arizona head football coach Kevin Sumlin was in self-isolation after testing positive for coronavirus, according to university officials.
The Oct. 5 announcement came days after UA announced the team’s delayed 2020 Pac-12 football schedule on Saturday, Oct. 3. The Wildcats plan to start pre-season practice on Friday, Oct. 9.
“My positive test result, while a shock, is a stark reminder of how we must all remain vigilant in our focus on handwashing, physical distancing and face coverings,” Sumlin said in a statement released by UA. “I am feeling well and will be engaged in our ramp-up activities on a virtual basis until I complete the isolation protocol.”
The university has begun contact tracing protocols and has determined “the test result is not related to any team activities and no close contacts were identified within the football program”, according to the school’s press release.
“I look forward to being back on field in time to begin preparing for the season,” Sumlin said in the release.
The Wildcats are scheduled to play their season opener against the University of Utah Utes on Nov. 7.
Get tested: Pima County has several testing centers, UA offering antibody testing
Pima County has three free testing centers with easy-to-schedule appointments—often with same-day availability—with results in 24 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.
The University of Arizona’s antibody testing has been opened to all Arizonans as the state attempts to get a 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 https://covid19antibodytesting.arizona.edu/home.
—with additional reporting from Nicole Ludden, Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner and Mike Truelsen