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The Centers for Disease Control announced Tuesday that people who are vaccinated do not need to wear masks outside unless they are in thick crowds.

The new recommendations say it’s safe to not wear a mask when you go out for a walk, run or bike outdoors with members of your household; attend a small outdoor gathering with vaccinated family and friends; and dine at outdoor restaurants with friends from multiple households. However, if you attend a crowded outdoor sports event, a concert or a similar outing, masks are still recommended. See more details here.

Vaccine walk-ins welcome; appointments available

You no longer need an appointment to get a shot at the UA vaccination point of distribution. The POD will now accept anyone over the age of 16 who comes in for a shot.

The pod, which offers both a drive-thru clinic on the UA Mall and a sit-down clinic in the Ina E. Gittings Building (1737 E. University Blvd.), is open 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.

Because of rising temperatures, the drive-thru clinic will close on May 3.

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 covidhelp@arizona.edu.

Meanwhile, Pima County officials are shifting to indoor vaccination sites to avoid making staff and volunteers endure long days in triple-degree temperatures.

Tucson Medical Center has shut down its drive-thru vaccination clinics and transferred its operations to 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 opened a new 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.

The drive-through POD at Banner-South Kino Stadium, 2500 E. Ajo Way, is now offering appointments between 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and will close permanently on May 14.

As of Tuesday, April 27, 395,301 people in Pima County had received at least one shot of the virus, accounting for 37.8% of the population. A total of 308,465 people are fully vaccinated.

For more information or additional mobile clinics, visit pima.gov/covid19vaccineregistration or call 520-222-0119.

Many local pharmacies are now receiving vaccine doses. To find one near you, visit the ADHS website.

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.

Today’s numbers

With 603 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases continued to climb as of Wednesday, April 28, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 35 new cases today, has seen 114,991 of the state’s 860,772 confirmed cases.

With 6 new deaths reported this morning, a total of 17,282 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 2,389 deaths in Pima County, according to the April 28 report.

A total of 622 coronavirus patients were in the hospital as of April 27. That’s roughly 12% 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 1,043 people visited emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on April 27. That number represents 44.5% 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 190 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on April 27, 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 Austin Counts, Christina Duran, Jeff Gardner and Mike Truelsen

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