/ Modified jan 25, 2021 5:12 p.m.

News roundup: Vaccinations ramp up in Pima County, more doses needed, winter storm brings rain and snow

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Jan. 25.

Arizona COVID-19 cases: 7 days

Map shows COVID-19 cases and case rates over the week preceding the last update.

Credit: Nick O'Gara/AZPM. Sources: The New York Times, based on reports from state and local health agencies, Census Bureau. Case reports do not correspond to day of test.

Cases 727,895 | Deaths 12,239

On Monday, Jan. 25, Arizona reported 5,321 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death. The number of new cases in Arizona have declined in recent weeks, but the state still has the nation’s worst infection rate, the Associated press reports.

County vaccinations continue, supply dwindling


Pima County is ramping up its ability to administer COVID-19 vaccinations, and could run out of vaccines early next month if the federal and state governments don't increase their shipments.

County health director Dr. Thesea Cullen says the county is already giving out more doses than it's receiving, and could use up the vaccine it has stored in inventory by mid-February.

"So we kept getting 29,000 a week and we were giving 37,000 you can see how we would run out in two to three weeks,” Cullen said.

Dr. Cullen says the county's three vaccination centers, at the Tucson Convention Center, the University of Arizona and Kino Sports Complex, are expected to administer 31,000 vaccinations this week, weather permitting. That number could increase to 35,000 by next week, with another 2,000 doses given by the Walgreens and CVS pharmacy chains at long term care centers.

UA vaccination site up and running with county in charge


The University of Arizona's walk-up and drive-thu vaccination sites will each serve about 400 people a day. Former U.S. surgeon general Dr. Richard Carmona, who oversees the university’s COVID response team, says people need to understand that the on-campus vaccination sites are run by the county, not the university.

“We don’t have discretion,” Carmona said. “People have called the president, people have called me and said, 'hey, I need to get it.' We don’t have the discretion to do that. There is a system that we are following that is fair to all.”

Right now, the campus vaccination sites are largely serving K-12 educators and school staff. University officials say they can serve more than 800 people a day if they get the necessary vaccines.

President Biden Halts Border Wall, But Environmentalists Want Sections Gone

Fronteras Desk

Within hours of being sworn in, President Joe Biden ordered all construction to stop on the U.S.-Mexico border wall that started going up under former President Donald Trump.

Biden mandated all work to pause within a week. A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers said all contractors building the wall under the military spending plan paused construction. And that other than safely preparing sites for the halt, work has stopped.

Activists and local journalists stressed that construction was still continuing along with road grading adjacent to Arizona’s border days after the new order to pause.

There’s still more than $4 billion worth of contracts already signed for wall work.

And the future of the border wall is up in the air not only for what may still go in but what some want to see torn out.

Learn more here.

Arizona reports 5,321 new COVID-19 cases, 1 new death


PHOENIX — Arizona health officials are reporting 5,321 new COVID-19 cases and one death. The latest numbers given Monday increase the state’s totals to 727,895 cases and 12,239 known deaths since the pandemic began.

The number of cases and hospitalizations in Arizona are declining despite the state having the nation’s worst infection rate. The number of people hospitalized statewide for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 fell to 4,229 on Sunday, the fewest since Dec. 26. The number of ICU beds used by COVID-19 patients dipped slightly to 1,027.

Still, COVID-19 is on track to eclipse heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death in the state.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation reports 133 new COVID-19 cases, 7 more deaths


WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials are reporting 133 new COVID-19 cases and seven more deaths as a revised public health order is set to take effect.

The latest figures released Sunday bring the total reported coronavirus cases on the reservation to 27,484 with 973 known deaths.

Beginning Monday, the tribe is extending its stay-at-home order with a revised nightly curfew to limit the spread of COVID-19. The Navajo Nation is also lifting weekend lockdowns to allow more vaccination events. The actions in the latest public health emergency order will run through at least Feb. 15. The daily curfew will run daily from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Learn more here.

Mexico's president says he's tested positive for COVID-19


MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says he has tested positive for COVID-19 and that the symptoms are mild.

Mexico’s president, who has been criticized for his handling of the country’s pandemic, said on his official Twitter account that he is under medical treatment. “I regret to inform you that I am infected with COVID-19,” he tweeted.

López Obrador, 67, has long been criticized for not setting an example of prevention in public. He has rarely been seen wearing a mask and continued to keep up a busy travel schedule taking commercial flights.

Learn more here.

Winter storms bring relief to parched Arizona, New Mexico


FLAGSTAFF — A series of winter storms have dropped more precipitation in Flagstaff than the city had during last summer's monsoon season.

The recent snow measured as water topped the amount of rain that fell from mid-June through September, the driest monsoon season on record.

Arizona and New Mexico have been parched lately in the worst categories of drought. The storms brought some relief through much of Arizona and to a lesser degree in New Mexico.

Forecasters say the mountainous areas of Arizona could get around 3 feet of snow before the latest storm moves out Tuesday.

Learn more here.

US virus numbers drop, but race against new strains heats up


Coronavirus deaths and cases in the U.S. have dropped markedly over the past couple of weeks but are still running at alarmingly high levels. And the effort to snuff out COVID-19 is becoming an ever more urgent race between the vaccine and the mutating virus.

Deaths are running at an average of just under 3,100 a day, down from more than 3,350 less than two weeks ago. New cases are averaging about 170,000 a day, after peaking at around 250,000.

The country’s top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says the improvements appear to be the result of a natural plateau after the holiday surge — not the effect of the vaccine. And he urges continued vigilance.

Learn more here.

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