University of Arizona officials expect new spike of COVID-19 cases

Spike in cases expected

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The number of new coronavirus cases has steadily dropped in Pima County in recent weeks, which has state and county leaders looking to ease restrictions on many activities.

However, county officials see a dark cloud on the horizon – the University of Arizona.

The concern is not so much about on campus as it is off campus, where a majority of students live.

“One of the concerns has been congregations, social activity that leads to increased infection,” said Dr. Francisco Garcia, the chief medical officer for Pima County.

The university has a plan for on-campus students which could contain any major spread but its harder to track students off campus.

“We are concerned, we are worried that even though our positivity rate is trending in the right direction, we will see a bump up,” Garcia said.

It’s being reported that more than 20,000 cases of coronavirus have appeared on college campuses in less than two weeks.

It doesn’t mean it will happen here, but it has officials concerned it will.

“The restrictions have been loosely based on what the epidemiology is and those numbers are getting a little bit worse in the near future,” he said.

“So we may need to backtrack a little bit.”

Where that backtracking will come and how serious it might be will be determined by the numbers.

Schools are a big concern and there has been a call for them to reopen in a hybrid model. That would be some in-class learning and some remote learning.

“Are we going to let this go on much longer,” said District One Supervisor Ally Miller. “I think at some point we need to look at that and start pushing back and saying we’ve got to get these kids back to school.

But Garcia says the numbers make that decision for them.

“We are currently yellow-yellow-red and for us to move to the next level opening schools as per the governor’s recommendation, all three need to be yellow,” he said.

And the next two weeks, which includes Labor Day, will determine whether the county takes a step forward or a step backwards.

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