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Dr. Theresa Cullen, Pima County's health director, was chosen to take over ADHS, replacing Don Herrington, who has been the interim director since Aug. 26, 2021, shortly after Dr. Cara Christ left the position. Christ made her exit at a time when Gov. Doug Ducey held his stance against a statewide mask mandate despite CDC recommendations to mask and rising COVID case numbers.

Across the country, health officials have been trying to combat misinformation and restore trust within their communities these past few years, a period when many people haven’t put full faith in their state and local health departments. Read more»

COVID-19 cases and deaths are down sharply from the height of the pandemic, but COVID-19 has still been responsible for more than 2.3 million infections and 32,182 deaths in Arizona in the past three years, and health experts say it’s likely here to stay.

Almost three years after the first COVID-19 cases were detected in Arizona, here’s what we know: It hits the elderly hardest, it spikes in summer and winter, it killed men in Arizona at sharply higher rates than women and new strains continue to evolve. Read more»

Arizona’s vaccination rates, which have been declining for years, dropped sharply during the pandemic and haven’t rebounded.

Vaccination rates among schoolchildren in Arizona have steadily declined since 2012, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the drop across the state - and the trend is unlikely to reverse any time soon, which could result in serious health consequences in the future. Read more»

A view of the Tucson City Hall in 2022.

The IDEA beat in 2022 reported on Southern Arizona, Pima County and Tucson during a time of shocking violence in the community, the end to COVID-19 measures and funding and an important midterm election. Read more»

Several European countries have reported an early spike of group A strep infections, mostly among children, including cases of rare but deadly bacterial infections. There is no evidence the increase is being caused by nasal spray flu vaccines, as social media posts baselessly suggest. Flu vaccination may even indirectly prevent strep A. Read more»

Arizona officials are urging people to get flu shots this fall to avoid the double threat of flu and COVID-19, which they fear could overburden state hospitals.

With the winter holidays approaching, the Biden administration released a COVID-19 preparedness plan announcing access to free tests and vaccines as well as hospital staff support and equipment in anticipation of increased disease transmission. Read more»

Green Valley will host a series of four free COVID-19 and flu vaccination events to make sure adults 65 years and older get protected against a worse-than-normal spread of respiratory diseases. Read more»

Dr. Theresa Cullen, director of the Pima County Health Department, talking to reporters in November about increased cases of respiratory disease heading into the Thanksgiving weekend.

The continued spread of RSV, influenza and COVID-19 has caused an increase in the number of area hospital beds in use, the Pima County Health Department warned. People should wear masks and socially distance during holiday gatherings, and get vaccinated, officials said. Read more»

Although RSV causes mild cold-like symptoms in most people, infections can be worse for infants and the elderly with more severe conditions like bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

As the holidays near and health care facilities grapple with a "tripledemic" of viral respiratory infections, people are being urged to consider donning masks and calling out sick. Nearly 10% of weekly deaths as of Dec. 1 were attributed to pneumonia, flu or COVID-19. And that was with Thanksgiving barely in the rear view. Read more»

Congress has not yet reached an agreement on total spending for the federal government for the current fiscal year, meaning U.S. lawmakers might need to pass another short-term government funding bill when the current law funding the Pentagon and the rest of the government expires on Dec. 16. 

Members of the U.S. military would no longer be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine under a proposal Congress could pass as soon as this week. Read more»

Arizona officials are urging people to get flu shots this fall to avoid the double threat of flu and COVID-19, which they fear could overburden state hospitals.

As the holidays loom, three respiratory illnesses are hitting the state and public health officials say now is the very best time for Arizonans to get vaccinated in order to be best protected come time for family gatherings.  Read more»

The mobile clinic will make its debut this Friday.

A new mobile health clinic will be making its way to Pima County public libraries starting this Friday. Read more»

Researchers at Northern Arizona University and the University of Washington have teamed up to create a vaccine for Valley fever, a fungal disease that mainly affects people living in Southwestern states. Its spores thrive in the soils of hot, dry climates and are small enough to be inhaled by humans and animals alike, causing an infection of the lungs.

A new research program combining the efforts of Northern Arizona University and the University of Washington aims to create a vaccine for Valley fever, an infectious fungal disease that poses an increasing threat as the climate continues to warm and dry. Read more»

The current spike is not a surprise to experts who’ve been watching a disruption in the circulation of seasonal viruses.

Experts say the spike of respiratory syncytial virus infections hospitals across the country are seeing among children is most likely caused by an immunity gap created by the lack of exposure to the virus over the past couple of years - not the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine. Read more»

It’s extremely difficult for consumers to evaluate policy options without the plan finder, and drug plans do not have to cover all injectable insulins.

Though Congress approved a cap on what seniors will pay for insulin as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, along with free vaccines and other improvements, the change came too late to add to the Medicare plan finder, the online tool that helps beneficiaries find the best bargain. Read more»

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