Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Monday, Nov. 2 Total AZ Cases Top 248K; Ducey Says “Storm Ahead” as Cases Surge in AZ; Free Testing Available

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With 666 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 248,000 as of Monday, Nov. 2, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

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Pima County had seen 28,914 of the state’s 248,139 confirmed cases.

With one new death reported yesterday, a total of 5,982 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 642 deaths in Pima County, according to the Nov. 2 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases statewide has declined from July peaks but has ticked upward in recent weeks as the virus has begun to spread more rapidly. ADHS reported that as of Nov. 1, 918 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. That number peaked with 3,517 hospitalized COVID patients on July 13; it hit a subsequent low of 468 on Sept. 27.

A total of 848 people visited emergency rooms on Oct. 29 with COVID symptoms. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7; it hit a subsequent low of 653 on Sept. 28.

A total of 231 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Oct. 29. The number of COVID patients in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13 and hit a subsequent low of 114 on Sept. 22.

On a week-by-week basis in Pima County, the number of positive COVID tests peaked the week ending July 4 with 2,452 cases, according to an Oct. 29 report from the Pima County Health Department.

Pima County saw a big bump in cases following the return of UA students, followed by a steady decline and then a big bump upward. For the week ending Sept. 19, 1,230 cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 26, 615 cases were reported; for the week ending Oct. 3, 533 cases were reported; for the week ending Oct. 10, 465 cases were reported; for the week ending Oct. 17, 512 cases were reported; and for the week ending Oct. 24, 829 cases were reported.

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, four in the week ending Sept. 26, four in the week ending Oct. 3, two in the week ending Oct 10, and zero in the subsequent weeks.

Hospitalization peaked the week ending July 18 with 221 COVID patients admitted to Pima County hospitals, but it has been on the rise in recent weeks. In the week ending Sept. 19, 17 patients were admitted; in the week ending Sept. 26, 15 people were admitted; in the week ending Oct. 3, 20 patients were admitted; in the week ending Oct. 10, 27 people were admitted; in the week ending Oct. 17, 35 people were admitted; and in the week ending Oct. 24, 28 people were admitted. (Recent weeks are subject to revision.)

Ducey: A “storm ahead” with COVID spread

Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ provided a COVID-19 update at a press conference last week amid rising cases throughout the state.

“The recent increase in cases has resulted in an increase in the COVID-19 rates in many counties,” Christ said at the Oct. 29 press conference. “At the Arizona Department of Health Services, we remain on high alert. We’ve worked to contain COVID-19 from all angles, and we continue to take further action in light of recent increases.”

Although Ducey acknowledged Arizona’s rising coronavirus numbers, he said in comparison to other states, “we’re not in that zone that we’re seeing in other places.”

“We do see this rising in different parts of the country, our expectation in Arizona has been that cases would continue to go up,” he said.

The governor recognized that the state’s current R naught number, which indicates how contagious a virus is, is currently at 1.16, which means coronavirus is spreading as fast as it did in June.

“Arizona did one of the best jobs in the nation when our time of challenge did come of driving it beneath one, but as we head into influenza season it becomes more challenging,” Ducey said.

Although the current rise in COVID-19 cases is alarming, Ducey said there’s even more to come.

“We know that there is a storm ahead of us, yet it’s not here,” Ducey said. “But those simple guidelines of wearing a mask, washing our hands, being socially distanced and using common sense have served us very well to date.”

However, the governor doesn’t plan on imposing new safety restrictions to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

“The mitigation that we’ve put out, the plan we put into effect remains in effect. I am proud that Arizona is open, that our economy is open, that our educational institutions are open and our tourist destinations are open,” Ducey said. “While at the same time, we do have mitigation steps in place that have allowed us to protect lives while protecting livelihoods, and we’re gonna continue to do that.”

Given the likelihood of travel and large gatherings, Christ says she anticipates seeing a spike 10-14 days after Thanksgiving that could potentially increase over the next 4-6 weeks.

In preparation for the holiday season, she said ADHS will be putting out guidance, working on mitigation strategies and making sure hospitals have enough resources, although she said the biggest barrier for hospitals is not “the beds, but could be the staffing.”

Christ urged citizens to continue mitigation tactics such as wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and getting an influenza shot.

“We understand that this has been a difficult year, and many have grown tired of the mitigation strategies. But now is not the time to let up,” she said.

When asked about the example he’s setting for Arizonans after repeatedly attending public events sans-mask, including at a Trump rally at the Prescott Regional Airport Oct. 19 and as he spoke at today’s press conference, Ducey called upon the First Amendment.

“We’ve been consistent the entire time through the pandemic to protect people’s rights under the Constitution,” Ducey said. “There are five days left in the election cycle and we’ll continue to protect people’s rights.”

Get tested: Pima County offers free COVID testing, UA offering antibody testing

The Pima County Health Department has four free testing centers around town 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) the Udall Center (7200 E. Tanque Verde Road) and downtown (88 E. Broadway). 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 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.

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