/ Modified jan 14, 2021 4:19 p.m.

News roundup: County enters next vaccine phase, health officials push for more COVID safety measures

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Jan. 14.

Arizona COVID-19 cases: 7 days

Map shows COVID-19 cases and case rates over the week preceding the last update.

Credit: Nick O'Gara/AZPM. Sources: The New York Times, based on reports from state and local health agencies, Census Bureau. Case reports do not correspond to day of test.

Cases 649,040 | 10,855

On Thursday, Jan. 14, Arizona reported 7,311 new cases of COVID-19 and 182 additional deaths.

Pima County readies COVID-19 vaccine expansion


Pima County plans to vaccinate approximately 700,000 residents against COVID-19 before the end of June.

Since the end of December, Pima County has been in Phase 1A which allows health care workers to be first in line for the COVID-19 vaccine. Today, the county moved into prioritized Phase 1B.

Phase 1B will target people over the age of 75, as well as educators, including staff at area schools and universities. Protective services workers, like law enforcement officers, and other essential workers will also be eligible to get the vaccine.

Learn more here.

Hospital Officials push for mask mandate, remote learning


Health care leaders from across Arizona continue to contradict Governor Doug Ducey's approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic — including his statement this week that schools should return to in-person learning.

Clinical officials from Banner Health, Dignity Health, the Mayo Clinic, Valleywise Health and Honor Health held a rare joint news conference Wednesday to stress the need to keep holding the line against the spread of COVID-19.

The clinical officials also said they are preparing for yet another wave of COVID-19 cases, as infections transmitted during New Year's Eve gatherings begin to appear.

Learn more here.

Flu and COVID running together in 2021


Doctors are reminding people of the differences between COVID-19 and symptoms of the common cold and flu.

They say colds and flu can be mistaken for COVID-19 and vice versa, because the symptoms can overlap. Banner-University emergency department director Melissa Zukowski notes there is one specific difference about COVID symptoms that people should recognize.

"People lose their sense of taste and smell, and that is common in COVID but very rare in flu and common cold," she said.

Health officials say cases of the flu are down sharply this season because people have been wearing masks and washing their hands frequently to ward off COVID-19.

Sonoran Health Care Workers Receive First Doses Of COVID-19 Vaccine

Fronteras Desk

Early Wednesday morning, health care workers in the Sonoran capital of Hermosillo became the first people in the state to receive doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

Sonoran leaders and hospital staff cheered as nurse Rodrigo Romero received the first vaccine administered in Sonora.

More than 14,600 doses of the coronavirus vaccine were distributed to 32 hospitals around the state Tuesday night. They’re slated for medical personnel who work directly with COVID-19 patients, and must be administered by this Saturday for the vaccine to maintain its effectiveness.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation reports 169 additional virus cases, 5 deaths


WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials on Wednesday reported 169 new COVID-19 cases and five more deaths from the coronavirus outbreak.

The additional cases and deaths increased the pandemic’s totals for the tribe’s reservation to 25,746 cases and 879 known deaths. The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

The tribe’s vast reservation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Arizona to open 2nd state-run COVID-19 vaccination site


PHOENIX — Arizona is expanding its COVID-19 vaccination program with plans for opening another state-run site in metro Phoenix and new vaccine eligibility for additional older Arizona residents.

Officials say the next vaccination site will open Feb. 1 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium near the Phoenix-Tempe border, with registration beginning Tuesday.

The state’s vaccination program was slow to get off the ground. But officials say the first state-run large site, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale has proved to be a success. It is administering thousands of doses daily.

The state also announced Wednesday that people age 65 and older starting next week can sign up to get vaccinated.

Learn more here.

Ducey: Trump 'bears some responsibility' for insurrection


PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey says President Donald Trump “bears some responsibility” for the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week but he does not support impeachment. The Republican governor told KTAR on Thursday that the focus should be on moving forward, not retribution for Trump.

Ducey also says he’ll attend the inauguration of Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president and vice president. He says he’ll disagree with some of Biden’s agenda but wishes him well.

Ducey was a staunch supporter of Trump but took heat from the president and many of his supporters when he signed the certification of Arizona’s election results showing a narrow win for Biden.

Judge rejects one of many challenges to new education tax


PHOENIX — A judge has rejected one of several constitutional challenges to a new voter-approved tax on the wealthy to fund education. But he put off deciding on several other legal arguments brought by opponents of Proposition 208.

The judge said Thursday that he ruled against an argument that the measure limited the Legislature’s authority to adjust school funding because the section only applied to schools themselves. That provision says school districts must use the money provided by the tax to boost teacher and support staff pay and can’t use it to replace other funding.

Learn more here.

Expanded vaccine rollout in US spawns a new set of problems


The rapid expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations to senior citizens across the U.S. has led to bottlenecks, system crashes and hard feelings in many states because of overwhelming demand for the shots.

Mississippi’s Health Department stopped taking new appointments the same day it began accepting them because of a “monumental surge” in requests. People had to wait hours to book appointments through a state website or a toll-free number Tuesday and Wednesday, and many were booted off the site because of technical problems and had to start over.

California counties are begging for more vaccines to reach millions of its senior citizens.

Learn more here.

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