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2,660 new Az COVID-19 cases, Pima County hospitals 'stretched thin' & seeking federal aid

19,600 new confirmed Arizona coronavirus cases in past 7 days

There were another 2,661 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona on Tuesday — following 2,400 on Monday, 3,052 on Sunday, 3,418 Saturday, 3,225 Friday and 2,970 last Thursday — which was 1,000 more than the previous day.

The spike in cases is at levels not seen since the beginning of February, with Pima County hitting "high" rates of community spread. The county Health Department issued a new public health advisory Tuesday, saying that local hospitals are "stretched thin" and seeking federal assistance to deal with the "unprecedented surge" in COVID cases and other admissions.

More than 19,600 people have been diagnosed with COVID infections in the state in the past seven days. 171 new cases were reported in Pima County on Tuesday, following 175 on Monday, 295 on Sunday, 299 Saturday, and 272 Friday, as both the state and county had the highest daily figures since the beginning of February.

It is "critical" that residents "understand the threat that COVID-19 and decreased hospital capacity poses to the public’s health and safety," county health officials said Tuesday. "We have seen a threefold increase in the number of cases in the past two weeks, which requires an urgent community-wide response to protect the public’s health."

There were 3 new deaths reported Tuesday from the coronavirus, with 67 deaths over the past seven days, Arizona Department of Health Services data indicated. 18,467 Arizonans are now dead from the virus.

As the Delta variant continues to spike, health officials have advised that everyone — even those who've been vaccinated — wear masks while indoors in public.

The 299 new cases in Pima County reported Saturday were the highest daily total since February 10.

Pima County finds itself with a such a sustained pace of new coronavirus infections that the CDC increased its assessment of the level of pandemic severity here from "substantial" to "high" rates of transmission earlier this month.

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"In Pima County at this time, the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant has become the dominant strain and is up to six times more contagious than other strains," officials said in a new Pima public health advisory issued Tuesday.

New Arizona COVID cases

Day New Cases
Tues 8/17 2,661
Mon 8/16 2,400
Sun 8/15 3,052
Sat 8/14 3,418
Fri 8/13 3,225
Thurs 8/12 2,970
Weds 8/11 1,970
Tue 8/10 2,582
Mon 8/9 2,191
Sun 8/8 2,639
Sat 8/7 2,653
Fri 8/6 2,826
Thurs 8/5 2,289
Weds 8/4 2,286
Tue 8/3 1,974
Mon 8/2 1,846
Sun 8/1 2,306
Sat 7/31 2,066

"A growing number of younger and middle-aged people are being hospitalized with COVID-19," Pima officials said. "In addition to the growing number of cases in school settings, Pima County is seeing increasing numbers of pediatric cases where COVID illness is seriously affecting young children. This has resulted in more children being seen in emergency rooms due to COVID-19 illness, as well as for other reasons including lung and respiratory infections (RSV)and flu."

August 6th's daily case update was the largest increase since the beginning of February, when there were about 300 new reported cases each day in the county, and about 2,200 daily across the state. Last week saw even larger daily case counts, with Friday, Saturday and Sunday each topping 3,000 across Arizona. The 3,835 cases reported on February 1 were the last time the daily report was more than 2,900.

Mondays have seen the lowest reports of new cases and deaths throughout the pandemic. ADHS figures are updated each morning, based on reports from hospitals and laboratories the previous day, but not all new cases precisely correspond with the date they are reported. Some new cases may not be included for 4-7 days, state health officials have said, with weekend reports typically lacking some of the latest cases.

Due to cases sometimes taking several days to be added to the county, due to testing and reporting delays between hospitals, laboratories and the Arizona Department of Health Services, the initial tally for Monday, August 2, of new reported cases was 2,846, but the actual number of confirmed positive samples related to new cases collected that day was 3,136, the most recent state data showed.

The first reported tally of new cases for August 9 was 2,191, but the latest data shows that 3,541 cases that were found to test positive for COVID infection were gathered that day.

The last time the total daily case count was that high was February 1, ADHS data showed.

New Arizona COVID deaths

18,467 Arizonans have now died from COVID-19.

Day Deaths Reported
Tues 8/17 3
Mon 8/16 -
Sun 8/15 2
Sat 8/14 27
Fri 8/13 23
Thurs 8/12 6
Weds 8/11 6
Tue 8/10 12
Mon 8/9 -
Sun 8/8 12
Sat 8/7 34
Fri 8/6 42
Thurs 8/5 11
Weds 8/4 7
Tue 8/3 30
Mon 8/2 1
Sun 8/1 5
Sat 7/31 22

The number of people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID infections has also hit numbers not seen since the start of March, with more than 1,700 patients in hospitals Tuesday — up from 1,380 hospitalized people at the start of the previous week, and more than triple the number at the beginning of July, when there were about 500 hospitalized coronavirus patients in Arizona.

"Area hospitals, across the board, have severe nursing workforce shortages due to high rates of turnover and burnout from the pandemic," Pima County Health Department officials said. "Local hospitals are being forced to rely on travelling nursing staff to ensure adequate clinical services."

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"Due to the increased demand for hospital beds, Pima County’s hospital capacity is now stretched very thin — creating a growing cause for concern. PCHD is actively assisting area hospitals to request federal assistance to address the healthcare workforce shortages and alleviate decreased surge capacity," officials said.

"Area hospitals are experiencing more people presenting to the ER who are sick for reasons other than COVID-19 such as heart attacks, RSV and sepsis, who require hospital admission," Pima officials said Tuesday. "This is putting significant pressure on critical health care resources. Currently, there is very limited availability of ICU beds as well as adult medical-surgical beds across the area hospitals. Local hospitals are also experiencing abnormally long wait times for EMS to be able to transfer care of their patient to the hospital staff. When this happens, EMS crews remain out of service and are unable to respond to other emergencies."

In Pima County, 2,470 people have died from the coronavirus, with 2 new reported deaths Saturday.

There have been more than 123,000 reported cases in the county, which is seeing the highest levels of new cases since early February.

Across the state, there have been more than 970,000 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began last year.

In Pima County, one out of 426 residents has died from the virus, and health officials are "strongly recommending" that everyone wear face masks in public indoor settings — even those who've been fully vaccinated.

Along with an increase in overall COVID cases that now falls under the CDC's "high transmission" metrics, the coronavirus outbreak here is beginning to infect children and reach into schools more than previously, Pima officials have said.

In addition to the push for everyone to wear masks when inside public buildings if they cannot remain six feet away from others, the a public health advisory from the Pima County Health Department "strongly recommends that all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools wear masks indoors at all times during school regardless of vaccination status."

More than 95% of new confirmed coronavirus infections are in people who have not been vaccinated — including children under 12, who are not yet eligible to get the COVID shots. Breakthrough cases — cases in people who have been fully vaccinated — account for less than 0.1% of all cases, officials said.

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Stop the spread

The Pima County Health Department asks the public to help stop community spread of COVID-19 by taking the following steps:

  • Get vaccinated against COVID-19 and flu
  • Weara mask when indoors, at schools and in public places
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Limit gathering in public spaces
  • Limit travel that is not essential
  • Get tested if you have covid-like symptoms
  • Isolate for 10 days from others if you test positive
  • Quarantine if you are exposed to someone who tests positive