TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima County, according to health officials, is in the midst of an accelerated spread of the coronavirus.
What that means is, there is no isolated spot where health officials can attack to tamp down the spread.
“Right now, we’re in a crisis situation,” said Dr Theresa Cullen, the Pima County Health Director. “We are confronting an accelerated viral transmission throughout the entire county, something we have never seen before.”
Dr. Cullen and others predicted a bad winter after tamping down a significant spread during June and July.
The spread this winter is proving to be worse than the one in summer, and so far has shown no signs of slowing down.
Which is why the county instituted a voluntary curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
The curfew has to be voluntary because of state restrictions, even though county officials would like to do more.
“It is the constraints with which we are working,” Dr Cullen said. “We are unable to implement a mandatory curfew.”
State law forbids a city or county from imposing rules which are more stringent than the state’s rules.
It would take an act of the governor to impose anything more than voluntary.
Still, the county is hoping the voluntary curfew helps tamp down the runaway virus by targeting the age group most responsible for the spread, ages 20 to 44.
“We know there is a lot of partying still going on, people drinking, people socializing,” she said. “We also know in these situations there is less compliance with masking.”
Dr. Cullen says she hopes to see some mitigation from this because “we have to get the numbers down, because the rate of accelerated transmission is unacceptable.”
It’s part of a layered strategy, one on top of another.
The county tested 290 arriving passengers on Monday at the Tucson International Airport for coronavirus.
The positivity rate was near 9%, which is high.
“What that means is that people are absolutely traveling that are infected,” Dr Cullen said. “We ask them to isolate until we get the results.”
The testing, again, is voluntary.
The county has been to the brink before, but was able to convince enough people to mask up, wash their hands and social distance- that the numbers dropped.
But this time, it’s different.
“We are seeing the virus throughout the entire county, unlike the spikes with the university in September and we could isolate a few census tracts,” Dr. Cullen said. “We’re unable to do that right now.”