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COVID cases remain on a plateau across Arizona.

For the week ending May 2, cases dropped for the first time since the week ending March 21, with 4,946 people testing positive, according to Dr. Joe Gerald, an epidemiologist and professor in the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health who has been tracking the virus for more than a year.

That means an estimated 68 Arizonans per 100,000 residents are testing positive. The state hit a low of 38 cases per 100,000 people on Sept. 8, 2020, between the summer and winter waves, and a low of 54 cases per 100,000 people on March 23 following the winter wave, with cases rising since then.

“Case rates will likely remain ‘stuck’ above the threshold differentiating substantial and moderate risk, 50 cases per 100K residents per week, for the next four to six week owning to more transmissible variants and continued normalization of behaviors,” Gerald wrote in a May 7 report summarizing the latest status of the virus.

Gerald noted that Arizona’s seniors now have the lowest rate of infections, at 26 per 100,000 among residents 65 and older, while the highest rate is among people 15 to 24 years old at 111 per 100,000.

He added that officials estimated 73 people died after contracting COVID in the week ending March 28, making it the first week with fewer than 100 deaths since October. The week ending Oct. 4 saw the fewest number of deaths related to COVID between with summer and winter surges, with 51 deaths.

Mobile vax units at Wheeler Taft Library, Greyhound Park today

Meanwhile, Pima County and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have launched mobile vaccination units to reach vulnerable communities with high risks of COVID-19 exposure and infection.

The operation includes two mobile vaccination units, which are able to administer 250 vaccines per day each, according to a county press release.

The units will run through June 26, operating at two concurrent locations for three days, with one day to tear down and move to the next location. The locations were selected based on census tract data and the Social Vulnerability Index of the area to identify highly vulnerable communities.

The sites will offer walk-up vaccinations of both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine for those 18 and older on a first-come, first-served basis. Patients will return to the same mobile site 28 days after their first visit to receive their second dose, following CDC guidance. Help will be available to all who need assistance with mobility, language or other accommodations.

Here are the planned mobile clinics:

Tuesday, May 11 - Thursday, May 13

  • Greyhound Park, 2601 S. 3rd Ave., 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Wheeler Taft Library, 7800 N. Schisler Drive, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.,
  • Rillito Race Track, 4502 N. 1st Ave., 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Wednesday, May 12

  • Ott Family YMCA, 401 S. Prudence Road, 8 a.m. – noon
  • Sun City Oro Valley, 1565 E. Rancho Vistoso Blvd., 1 - 4 p.m.

Thursday, May 13

  • CDO High School, 25 W. Calle Concordia, Oro Valley, 4 - 7 p.m.
  • Antigone Books, 411 N. 4th Ave., 5 - 9 p.m.

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

Tucson Medical Center has 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. but will close permanently on May 14. Visit pima.gov/covid19vaccine for more details.

The UA vaccination point of distribution is now accepting anyone over the age of 16 who comes in for a shot.

The POD, which is scheduled to close at the end of June, offers a sit-down clinic in the Ina E. Gittings Building (1737 E. University Blvd.) 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.

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.

CVS pharmacies are now accepting same-day COVID-19 vaccination appointments, and at some locations no appointment is necessary.

About 190 locations in Arizona are taking walk-ins, but appointments are also available within an hour of scheduling.

Walgreens announced it would offer same-day appointments at locations across the country as of this week. Patients can schedule appointments up to 30 minutes before the desired appointment time.

While Walgreens continues to encourage appointments, a Walgreens corporate spokesperson said, walk-ins have and continue to be accepted “if a time slot is available,” across all 8,800 Walgreens stores offering vaccinations.

As of Tuesday, May 10, 415,585 people in Pima County had received at least one shot of the virus, accounting for 39.8% of the population. A total of 349,686 people were fully vaccinated.

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 683 new cases reported today, the total number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases rose past 870,000 as of Tuesday, May 11, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 67 new cases today, has seen 115,872 of the state’s 870,155 confirmed cases.

With 19 new deaths reported this morning, a total of 17,428 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 2,407 deaths in Pima County, according to the May 11 report.

A total of 577 coronavirus patients were in the hospital as of May 10. That’s roughly 11% 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 824 people visited emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on May 10. That number represents 35% 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 185 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on May 9, which roughly 15.5 % 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 Christina Duran, Jeff Gardner and Mike Truelsen