Pima County Board of Supervisors rescind COVID-19 emergency resolution
TUCSON, Ariz. - The Pima County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, July 6, voted to rescind a March 2020 resolution that declared a state of emergency because of the pandemic.
The emergency declaration allowed the board to take immediate and urgent actions that included regulating businesses, limiting gatherings and requiring masks in public. Those restrictions had already been lifted by state or local actions before the 3-2 vote.
Pima County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia told the board before the vote that this signals a new phase of the pandemic recovery – but that it is not over.
“We have had substantial and sustained improvement in Pima County,” Garcia said.
“I believe it would be safe to lift the emergency declaration. The cases that we’re seeing are cases among unvaccinated individuals, and we continue to work on that population very vigorously and we will continue to move that further. I’m not saying the pandemic is over.”
As of July 6, 69.9 percent of those 18 and over in Pima County had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 61.6 percent were fully vaccinated – meaning two weeks past their second shot of Pfizer or Moderna, or two weeks after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Pima County began to decrease in mid-January after the rollout of the vaccination effort. County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry wrote in a memo to the Board last week that on Jan. 11, nearly 68 percent of intensive care beds were occupied by COVID patients. That number is now hovering around 5 percent.
Huckelberry also noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that 99.5 percent of the COVID-19 deaths across the country in the past six months involved unvaccinated individuals.
“I think the message is, if you’re not vaccinated, get vaccinated. The rate of infection is in the hands of those who are unvaccinated,” Huckelberry told the Board on Tuesday.
If COVID-19 cases surge again, the Board can pass a new emergency resolution.
“We are continuing to emphasize education and increasing access as much as we can into areas that have low vaccine uptake,” said Pima County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen. “But right now we are comfortable with the acceleration that we continue to see with our immunizations.”