Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (pink) cultured in the lab.

• The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Arizona had topped 27,000 as of Monday, June 8, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Pima County had seen 3,154 of the state’s 27,678 confirmed cases. One week ago, on Monday, June 1, the state had 20,123 confirmed cases. COVID-19 has killed 1,047 people statewide, including 205 in Pima County, according to the report. In Maricopa County, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen to 14,003. Roughly three weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey lifted Arizona's stay-at-home order, Arizona hospitals are seeing a rise in the number of people hospitalized with COVID symptoms, as well as more people visiting emergency rooms. The Arizona Department of Health Services reported that as of June 8, 1,266 Arizonans were hospitalized and 390 people were in ICU units. The report showed 815 people arrived at emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on June 7. 


• Nationwide, more than 1.9 million people had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which had killed more than 110,000 people in the United States as of Monday, June 8, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University.


• Banner Health's chief clinical officer Marjorie Bessel hosted a special briefing about the rapidly increasing numbers of COVID hospitalizations in Arizona on Friday, June 5. Bessel warned that if current trends continue, Banner will soon need to exercise its surge plan to increase ICU capacity. Bessel highlighted a steep increase of COVID-19 patients on ventilators: On June 4, Banner’s Arizona hospitals had 116 COVID-19 patients on ventilators, up from roughly 15 a month prior. Banner officials urge everyone to exercise behaviors that are proven to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as wearing a mask when you’re in public near others, staying six feet away from others, and avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people. 


• At a June 4 press conference, Ducey said he and Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ anticipated the current increase in positive COVID-19 cases because testing has “dramatically increased” within the state. Christ downplayed the alarm about the recent increase in cases, which some have attributed to the end of the stay-at-home order on May 15, saying “as people come back together, we know there will be transmissions of COVID-19.” While they admitted new cases are to be expected when people begin to interact again, Ducey and Christ said their main focus was to ensure that hospitals had the capacity for an increase in cases. They reported that the current use of hospital beds, ICU beds, and ventilators were all within capacity last week. “The fact that we were going to focus on having more tests means we were going to have more cases,” Ducey said. “We anticipated that. What we wanted to do was to be prepared for this.” Christ revealed two days later that the state had been miscalculating the percentage of available bed space in hospitals by counting potential "surge beds" that could be brought into use as already filled. Christ said the error had been caught and would not be repeated moving forward. 


Gov. Doug Ducey lifted his curfew order on Monday, June 8. The curfew had come after protests in Tucson and the Phoenix area turned into riots and looting sprees. Protestors gathered for several demonstrations in Tucson despite the heat and the curfew order during the week. The protests here and across the nation were triggered by the killing of George Floyd, who died in police custody after a Minneapolis cop kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes as the man gasped for air and said he couldn't breathe. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired and now faces charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, while three other officers who watched as Floyd was held down were also fired and face charges of aiding and abetting murder, but the protests have continued. 


Thousands of Tucsonans flocked to the University of Arizona mall June 3 for the March For Justice Tucson rally against police brutality. The event included a series of speakers sharing their personal experiences with racism, slam poetry and calls for the abolishment of prisons, defunding police departments and the destruction of racist societal institutions. The university was also the site of a memorial for George Floyd Saturday, June 6.


Tucson’s 911 system was briefly out of commission Saturday, several first responder agencies reported. Pima County Sheriff’s Department resumed its service before 9 a.m. The outage occurred shortly after 17 employees at a city department handling emergency calls tested positive for COVID-19. According to the Arizona Daily Star, which first broke the news, 11 of the positive cases were asymptomatic while the other eight employees were sent home.


The Town of Marana reopened its aquatic facilities over the weekend after the splash pads closed as part of Gov. Doug Ducey’s April stay-home order. The town operates splash pads at Heritage River Park, 12280 N. Heritage Park Drive, and at Crossroads at Silverbell District Park, 7458 N. Silverbell Road. There is also a public pool at Ora Mae Harn District Park, 12350 N. Lon Adams Road, though it’s still closed for deck reconstruction. Last Friday, staff tested chemical levels and general system readiness. In addition to testing the system, parks and rec also installed new signs to communicate with residents a series of new guidelines in place. Read more on page 4.


Additional reporting from Kathleen B. Kunz, Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner, Jim Nintzel and Tara Foulkrod 

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