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With 1,861 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 791,000 as of Thursday, Feb. 11, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 685 new cases today, has seen 105,909 of the state’s 791,106 confirmed cases.

With 200 new deaths reported today, a total number of 14,662 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19. In Pima County, the death toll topped 2,000 with 42 newly reported deaths bringing Pima County’s total number of deaths to 2,023, according to the Feb. 10 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases statewide has declined in recent weeks, with 2,507 coronavirus patients in the hospital as of Feb. 10. That's fewer than half the number who were hospitalized at the peak of the winter wave, which reached 5,082 on Jan. 11. The summer peak was 3,517, which was set on July 13. The subsequent lowest number of hospitalized COVID patients was 468, set on Sept. 27. 

A total of 1,535 people visited emergency rooms on Feb. 10 with COVID symptoms, down from the record high of 2,341 set on Tuesday, Dec. 29. That number had peaked during the summer wave at 2,008 on July 7; it hit a subsequent low of 653 on Sept. 28.

A total of 719 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Feb. 10, down from a peak of 1,183 set on Jan. 11. The summer’s record number of patients in ICU beds was 970, set on July 13. The subsequent low was 114 on Sept. 22.

How to get a vaccine

Currently, Pima County is providing vaccination shots to people 70 and older as well as educators, first responders and healthcare workers. Those who currently qualify in Pima County’s 1B priority group of eligible vaccine recipients can register for a vaccine at www.pima.gov/covid19vaccineregistration or by calling 520-222-0119.

State planning to open vaccine distribution site in Pima County but no word on whether more doses will be coming here

Pima County is getting a state-run vaccination site at the University of Arizona that will begin appointments on Feb. 18. 

The new site will follow the state’s current vaccine eligibility, which includes those 65 and older, educators, childcare workers and protective service workers, according to Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ. 

As the state-run POD, or point of distribution, registrations will go through ADHS’s website. 

Appointments will begin on Feb. 18, and registration will open at 9 a.m. on Feb 16. Online registration will be available at podvaccine.azdhs.gov, and those who need assistance can call 1-844-542-8201. 

The university says it’s delivered more than 12,000 COVID-19 vaccines at a rate of 1,000 shots per day to the educators it currently serves. According to the governor’s office, the site could reach 6,000 people a day when operated at full capacity. 

The site has a drive-through location on the University of Arizona Mall and a walk-up site at the Ina E. Gittings Building. 

The university will expand its current hours of operation as a POD that currently serves educators and childcare workers. It will transition to a state site and eventually operate 24/7 as Arizona receives more vaccine doses. 

UA President Robert Robbins said the site will eventually move from its current six hours a day of operation to two eight-hour shifts. 

According to Christ, the university will start with a “soft launch” with expanded hours at first and will become a fully operational state-run POD by Feb. 22. 

However, Christ said the vaccines supplying the state-run site will be taken out of the county’s already limited allocation. This week, Pima County’s vaccine allocation was decreased by 39%. 

The state submitted a federal resource request for 300,000 doses followed by an additional 300,000 vaccines a week in January, but the request was denied. Christ said the state was asked over the weekend to re-submit the request and is awaiting an answer. 

“We continue to monitor our weekly allocations and we give that out on a pro-rata basis of the population of the phase that each county has. We believe that we are going to stay relatively consistent over the next couple of weeks with the amount of vaccine that we get,” Christ said. “But we always think that it's better to have the resources established. So make sure that they've got staffing, funding, that management systems are put into place so that when we do get an increase in vaccine, those sites are ready to go to full capacity.” 

Robbins said the university has asked the state for an incremental increase in vaccine supply, and he anticipates up to a 25% increase in the county’s allocation as production from Moderna and Pfizer ramps up. 

“We don't have a demand or throughput problem, we've got a supply problem. We're targeting between 6,000 to 8,000 doses a day. If we ran it seven days a week, we're talking 50,000 doses a week, just at our POD,” Robbins said. “So the state has got to dramatically increase if we're going to build this out and take advantage of running a 24/7 operation. They've got to be able to supply us the vaccine.”

But taking vaccine doses away from the county to support the POD may hinder efforts at other county-run vaccination sites. 

“We need more capacity to distribute vaccines, but we need more vaccines. For them to take out of the allocation for Pima County potentially means that some of our other PODs would have shorter hours, less accessibility, might have to temporarily close until we get more vaccines,” said Pima County Supervisor Adelita Grijalva. “While we appreciate the state opening up a state POD, we actually need more vaccines. That is the biggest problem that we have.” More details here.

TUSD proposes March 24 as tentative start date

Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo told the TUSD Governing Board Tuesday night that he hoped to return to some form of in-class instruction on March 24. 

Under Trujillo’s plan, preschool and elementary parents can choose between full-time remote or on-campus learning. 

High school and middle school families can opt for either remote learning or a hybrid model with four half days of in-person learning with remote days on Wednesdays. 

Parents will be able to select their choice through ParentVue, the school’s online parent portal. 

Under a previous board vote, Trujillo was given the authority to decide when TUSD would return to in-class instruction. The district has previously set opening dates only to delay them and has been in remote-only instruction since March of last year. 

Trujillo told board members he would flesh out his plan for instruction and COVID mitigation once parents select their educational preferences, which would provide a better sense of how many students would be back in the traditional classroom and how many would prefer to continue with remote learning.

Yesterday’s AM Roundup reported that TUSD would return to classroom instruction on March 22. That is the day teachers will return to campus and prepare for resumption of in-class instruction. More details here.

Vaccine available now in Marana and Oro Valley area

MHC Healthcare is currently scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments for those older than 75 in the Marana and Oro Valley areas.

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, appointments will take place at MHC Healthcare Marana Main Health Center at 13395 N. Marana Main St.

Vaccinations will take place every Thursday at the James D. Kriegh Park at 23 W Calle Concordia in Oro Valley. 

Appointments will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and residents of Oro Valley, Marana, Dove Mountain, Catalina, Avra Valley, Picture Rocks and Summer Haven can register at mhchealthcare.org

Vaccinations at both locations will be administered in a drive-thru setting using the Moderna vaccine. 

As of last Monday, MHC had received 2,300 vaccines from the Pima County Health Department and administered 1,714.

Get tested: Pima County has free COVID testing

Pima County offers a number of testing centers around town. 

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. 

In addition, the Pima County Health Department, Pima Community College and Arizona State University have partnered to create new drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites at three Pima Community College locations. At the drive-thru sites, COVID-19 testing will be offered through spit samples instead of nasal canal swabs. Each site will conduct testing from 9 a.m. to noon, and registration is required in advance. Only patients 5 years or older can be tested. 

Schedule an appointment at these or other pop-up sites 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.

—with additional reporting from Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner, Nicole Ludden and Mike Truelsen