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COVID-19 cases easing slightly in Pima County

Published: Sep. 3, 2021 at 7:49 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima County’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francisco Garcia, says the number of COVID-19 cases has leveled off somewhat but is not dropping.

“It’s too early to call it a victory,” he said. “We are continuing to see a good steady number of cases, although it does appear to be tapering off in the last week.”

Two weeks ago, according to Dr. Garcia, 25% of the ICU beds were filled with COVID patients. That has dropped to 20% this week.

What hasn’t tapered off are school cases which are rising at about 60 per week. There have been 1,412 school cases since the beginning of the school year July 20. Those also include staff but students, especially 11 and under, are the majority of cases.

What’s interesting is that most of the school infections don’t happen at school. Most happen at home or at other settings.

“Most infections among children actually happen in community settings whether that’s after school settings, sports, that cookout at mom’s house,” Dr. Garcia said. “It’s a variety of settings.”

Dr. Garcia would not attribute that to mandatory masking in the schools but did add “are mask mandates important in school settings? Absolutely. I will answer that question in the affirmative.”

The number of new cases has been fairly steady at about 300 or fewer since reaching a peak of 335 cases on Aug. 17.

The county has vaccinated nearly 75% of the adult population with at least one shot but hopes to reach 80% in the next two weeks.

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