TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - On Monday, the Pima County Health Department issued a voluntary curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. through December 31, 2020 to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
The voluntary measure applies to all in Pima County with a fixed address and exceptions will be made for those traveling for work or other essential activities.
This announcement comes the same day the Pima County Health Department reported the highest weekly total of positive cases since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
From Nov. 15-21, the county had 2,575 new cases.
Pima County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen shared the news Monday, Nov. 23, during a virtual news conference with University of Arizona leaders.
“Today, I want to share with you the very sobering news that our seven-day average right now is 439,” Dr. Cullen said. “Yesterday, we reported the highest number of cases we have ever reported in Pima County.”
Dr. Cullen said on Friday, Nov. 20, they detected the highest traces of COVID-19 in the wastewater collected in the Tucson area.
Because of the rising numbers, Dr. Cullen hinted the county may soon encourage new voluntary measures to help the slow the spread.
Hours later, the Department issued the voluntary curfew.
“Cases are going up. We are seeing less beds available, less ICU beds available, and less ventilators available,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, former U.S. Surgeon General and leader of the UA’s Reentry Task Force. “Think about this, we have been in this war now for 3/4 of a year; staff is burning out.”
University of Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins said he is worried.
“In El Paso, they are putting people in refrigerated outdoor morgues because they are being overwhelmed. I am very concerned about that happening in Tucson, Phoenix and across our rural hospitals,” Dr. Robbins said.
Dr. Carmona urged Southern Arizonans to listen to local health professionals, “that will tell you in a non-partisan way sometimes the politically inconvenient truth about what we need to do.”
Dr. Robbins said he supports more restrictions.
“I think our governor could go back to no more restaurants, just grab-n-go, no outdoor dining. A curfew I think is probably right,” Dr. Robbins said.
“Our hope is that by working together to develop some options that will highlight why we think certain things should happen, like a voluntary curfew in the late evening into the early morning,” Dr. Cullen said.
Dr. Cullen said the county is also looking into other possible moves that go beyond voluntary measures.
University of Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins said testing will continue in the dorms over the holidays.
A testing blitz is scheduled for January, when more students return to campus.