LIVE information updates on COVID-19 pandemic

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As Arizona continued trends seen for most of February, health officials began administering the COVID-19 vaccine to an expanded group, those age 65 and older.

Appointments for that group to get vaccinated began opening up earlier this week, Maricopa County officials say. To schedule a vaccine in county, go to maricopa.gov/5659/COVID-19-Vaccine-Locations.

Arizona’s seven-day, new-case average ranked 20th on Thursday among all states, after ranking first and second for much of January, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker.

Follow coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic by Republic and USA TODAY Network reporters here.

3:45 p.m. Friday: Arizona to send federal money to counties for virus testing

Arizona on Friday announced it would provide $100 million of federal funding to the state’s 15 counties for COVID-19 testing and related work.

The state Department of Health Services said the $100 million represents an initial allocation to the counties and is being provided for staffing, laboratory testing “and other activities critical to combating COVID-19.”

The department’s announcement of the allocations to counties followed Pima County officials’ recent declaration that they might have to suspend COVID-19 testing as of Monday because of a lack of funding.

Arizona received $418.9 million in January from the federal government for COVID-19 testing and related work and must submit a budget by mid-March to detail how it will spend the money, the department said.

In addition to allocations to counties, the state will use some of the money for statewide testing programs, including testing done by Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, the department said.

Of the $100 million initial allocations to counties, $60.6 million is being sent to Maricopa County and $14.4 million to Pima County, which include most of metro Phoenix and most of the Tucson area, respectively.

Rounded-off allotments to other counties included Cochise, $1.9 million; Coconino, $2.1 million; Mohave $3 million; Pinal, $6.2 million; Yavapai, $3.3 million; and Yuma, $3 million, the department said.

— Associated Press

2:45 p.m. Friday: A lethal month: January deaths in Arizona up by 66% over previous year

January was a lethal month in Arizona, with total deaths up by 66.5% over January 2020, preliminary state numbers show.

The 9,481 deaths reported by the Arizona Department of Health Services for the month of January reflect the severity of the second COVID-19 pandemic wave in both Arizona and the U.S.

The Arizona death toll for January was a higher number than any single month of reported deaths in 2020, state numbers show. January’s death total nationwide of 95,020 was a pandemic record, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In Arizona, cases of COVID-19 began surging in November and peaked on Jan. 4, the latest state numbers say. Hospitalizations for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 in Arizona peaked on Jan. 11.

Deaths are a lagging indicator, meaning deaths typically spike several weeks after a rise in cases. Last month, the peak for known deaths that occurred on a single day was Jan. 18, with 167 known deaths on that day.

January’s total Arizona death toll is a difference of 3,788 deaths over January 2020, and is similar to the number of known COVID-19 deaths reported in January, though the numbers could change.

— Stephanie Innes

1 p.m. Friday: Arizona adds 1,918 cases, 145 deaths as hospitalizations continue gradual drops

Arizona reported more than 1,900 new COVID-19 cases and 145 new known deaths on Friday as hospitalizations for the disease dropped slightly, continuing more than five weeks of declining hospital numbers.

Arizona’s seven-day, new-case average ranked 20th on Thursday among all states, after ranking first and second for much of January, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker.

The state’s rate of new positive cases during the past seven days was 23.2 cases per 100,000 people, per the CDC. South Carolina was first with 53.4 cases per 100,000. The U.S. average for new cases was 23.3 cases per 100,000 people.

The state’s average daily COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people during the past seven days ranked fourth in the nation as of Thursday, per the CDC.

Arizona’s newly reported 145 deaths brought the known COVID-19 death count to 15,421. The state surpassed 15,000 deaths on Wednesday after passing 14,000 deaths on Feb. 6 and 13,000 deaths on Jan. 29, just one week after it passed 12,000 and two weeks after 11,000 deaths. The state exceeded 10,000 known deaths on Jan. 9. Arizona’s first known death from the disease occurred in mid-March.

Many of the deaths occurred days or weeks prior, due to reporting delays and death certificate matching.

Hospitalizations for the disease have been dropping gradually for over five weeks but remain at relatively high levels. 

— Alison Steinbach

5 p.m. Thursday: University of Arizona opens southern Arizona’s first state-run vaccination site 

University of Arizona’sCOVID-19 vaccine point of distribution in Tucson transitioned from county-run to state-run Thursday, becoming the first state-run vaccination site in southern Arizona.

It also became the third high-capacity state vaccination site, joining State Farm Stadium and the Phoenix Municipal Stadium in Maricopa County. First open in mid-January in partnership with Pima County, it is the only one to have a drive-through clinic and a sit-down clinic for those without access to a vehicle.

The site’s goal is to add additional shifts with the possibility of moving to a 24/7 operation with a distribution of 6,000 to 8,000 vaccines per day, said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins in a news conference on Thursday.

Because of the transition, the UArizona site will incrementally receive additional doses to those already given to Pima County, expanding its vaccination capabilities.

“And that’s what we’re after,” said Robbins. “Try to vaccinate as many people as we possibly can as fast as we can, because the faster we do that, the less chance the virus has to mutate.”

The University of Arizona will serve as the state's first 24/7 vaccination site in southern Arizona, dramatically increasing vaccinations across the Tucson area starting on Feb. 18.

The state point of distribution, or POD, opened registrations on Tuesday for Arizona’s Priority Phase 1B.

Dr. Cara Christ, the Arizona Department of Health Services Director, said the UArizona site already has a proven record of success, and the transition will expand its capacity and hours of operation.

The transition also moves appointment registration from the county to the Arizona Department of Health Services’ state registration system. Appointments are required for both drive-thru and sit-down locations.

So far, 20,000 vaccines have been distributed at the site, said Robbins, about a third of which were allocated to UArizona faculty and staff. The site has also vaccinated daycare workers, as well as K-12 and Pima Community College faculty and staff.

Robbins also said the university and the site have a “continued and absolute commitment to equity,” making sure the most vulnerable populations have access to the vaccine as soon as possible.

Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire said allowing people that may not be in a car to be able to get vaccines “is something that we haven’t been able to do in our other sites up in Maricopa County.”

The site has the capacity to meet the strict handling requirements of the Pfizer vaccine, meaning the Moderna vaccine, with less strict handling requirements, will be allocated to smaller clinics in more counties, Christ explained.

The state health department is also looking into opening PODs in Yuma, Coconino and other rural counties in the next couple of weeks.

Christ said the state health department continues to work with community partners to identify hard-to-reach communities and places that are “vaccine-hesitant” or with high rates of comorbidities. It is looking into moving to community-based PODs as vaccines come to the state.

There have also been shipping delays to rural counties due to weather, meaning the Pfizer doses have shipped, but Moderna doses will not arrive until the beginning of next week.

Christ explained that as the spread of COVID-19 has slowed, “being able to ramp up operations at this site as more vaccines become available will provide another weapon against COVID-19.”

Reporter Peiyu Lin contributed to this article.

— Nienke Onneweer 

2:45 p.m. Thursday: Over 1 million people have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot in Arizona

More than 1 million people have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine in Arizona, the state announced Thursday.

And over 332,000 people statewide have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with both doses.

“Arizona has reached another major milestone today with our one millionth individual to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Gov. Doug Ducey said in a released statement. “We are so grateful to all of the health care workers, staff and volunteers who made today’s achievement a reality. There’s much more to do in the weeks and months ahead, and we are looking forward to making the vaccine available to all Arizonans as soon as possible.”

State health director Dr. Cara Christ said in a statement she expects increased vaccine supply in the next weeks to months, which will continue to accelerate the process.

State-run sites at State Farm Stadium and Phoenix Municipal Stadium have accounted for about 291,000 of the near 1,340,000 total doses administered across the state. ADHS is launching another state-run site at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Vaccine location information is available at www.azhealth.gov/findvaccine. Eligible people to get vaccinated can call 844-542-8201 for help with registration.

— Alison Steinbach

2:30 p.m. Thursday: 2 Maricopa County PODs to close as vaccine strategy shifts as planned

Maricopa County will close two of its large drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine sites in the weeks ahead as part of its continued rollout strategy as the county shifts towards other ways of getting doses into arms.

The Dignity Health POD in the southeast part of the county and the HonorHealth POD in the northeast part of the county will both close, although no scheduled appointments will be impacted.

The Dignity Health site will close at the end of February, and the HonorHealth POD will close the first week of March, according to Marcy Flanagan, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health department.

The county currently helps run six POD sites, one of which allows walk-through vaccines, but PODs were never meant to be the entire vaccine strategy, she said. Instead, they were the best way to get a large number of doses into priority groups as the process started.

“Now that we have other types of vaccine sites available, some of our PODs will be closing, and this is according to our plans,” Flanagan said at a Thursday news briefing.

Those POD sites were originally just planned to help vaccinate the phase 1A population, but they stayed on to help with priority phase 1B, she said.

Other locations offering vaccines in the county include pharmacies, primary care offices, federally qualified health centers and special community events, although appointments depend on vaccine supply.

“While some drive-thru PODs will be ongoing, we will continue to create other ways and locations for people to get vaccinated with a focus on targeted events based on community needs. This will include events serving rural and urban parts of the community, those who speak multiple languages and much more so we can make sure we serve our communities that may be hard to reach or underserved,” Flanagan said.

About 15% of Maricopa County adult residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, with more than 700,000 doses administered to over half a million county residents so far.

— Alison Steinbach

10:30 a.m. Thursday: Arizona adds 1,143 COVID-19 cases, 213 deaths

Arizona reported a relatively low 1,143 new COVID-19 cases and high 213 new known deaths Thursday as hospitalizations for the disease continued to decline.

Arizona’s seven-day, new-case average ranked 20th on Wednesday among all states, after ranking first and second for much of January, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker.

The state’s rate of new positive cases over the past seven days was 24.5 cases per 100,000 people, per the CDC. South Carolina was first with 55.9 cases per 100,000. The U.S. average for new cases was 24.5 cases per 100,000 people. 

The state’s average daily COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people over the past seven days ranked third in the nation as of Wednesday, per the CDC. 

Arizona’s newly reported 213 deaths brought the known COVID-19 death count to 15,276. The state surpassed 15,000 deaths on Wednesday after passing 14,000 deaths on Feb. 6 and 13,000 deaths on Jan. 29, just one week after it passed 12,000 and two weeks after 11,000 deaths. The state exceeded 10,000 known deaths on Jan. 9. Arizona’s first known death from the disease occurred in mid-March.

Many of the deaths occurred days or weeks prior, due to reporting delays and death certificate matching.

— Alison Steinbach

7 p.m. Wednesday: Counties cancel vaccine appointments due to delayed shipments, officials say 

At least five counties are canceling vaccine appointments this week due to delayed vaccine shipments caused by extreme weather conditions across the country.

Vaccine deliveries have not yet arrived this week in Pinal County due to storm conditions at the airport and ground transportation hubs throughout the nation, according to Pinal County Public Health. 

People should keep any scheduled appointments they have for Wednesday and Thursday unless notified by the agency where they made an appointment, according to a statement released Wednesday by Pinal County. 

No new appointments in Pinal County are available until vaccine shipments arrive, Pinal County said.

While being able to provide vaccines needed for all appointments for Wednesday, Coconino County and some partner vaccination sites are canceling and rescheduling first dose appointments scheduled for Thursday and Friday, according to a statement released Wednesday by Coconino County.

An estimated 1,800 people are impacted by this situation, the authorities said.

“Impacted vaccination sites are Fort Tuthill County Park, Northern Arizona University, Northern Arizona Healthcare/Flagstaff Medical Center (Elks Lodge), and North Country HealthCare,” according to the authorities.

First dose appointments on Saturday are not affected, but this may change based on future vaccine availability, Coconino County said.

About 2,800 appointments in Pima County could be postponed between Wednesday and Saturday if new supplies do not arrive in the next few days, according to a statement released Wednesday by Pima County. 

The appointments that could be affected are those scheduled at Tucson Medical Center beginning Thursday for some second dose appointments, and Tucson Convention Center and Banner South beginning Friday, according to the statement.

The impact of these delays is expected to be short-term, and locations will be able to return to normal operations as more vaccine arrives, the statement said.

All appointments this week in Santa Cruz County will be rescheduled for the following week, according to a statement released Wednesday by Santa Cruz County. 

In Mohave County, several providers have already or will cancel scheduled appointments due to a lack of vaccine caused by delayed shipments, according to a statement released Wednesday by Mohave County. 

It remains unclear when providers will receive their allocation for this week, the statement said.

— Peiyu Lin

More:Extreme weather nationwide is delaying Arizona’s COVID-19 vaccine shipments

5:30 p.m. Wednesday: COVID-19 numbers improve, but stay vigilant as vaccine rollout continues, experts say

COVID-19 numbers are improving in Arizona, but experts urge continued vigilance as the vaccine rollout continues.

Hospitalizations for the disease have been dropping at Valleywise Health, the Valley’s safety net hospital, according to chief clinical officer Dr. Michael White.

The hospital’s inpatient census was down to 30 patients with four patients in the ICU Wednesday morning, the lowest numbers seen since the first week in November, White said during a Wednesday news briefing. During mid-January, Valleywise had over 120 COVID-19-positive patients, with more than 35 in the ICU.

“Certainly this is due in large part to the efforts that everyone has undertaken around masking, social distancing and really working to do what we can to contain this virus,” he said.

White said it’s important for people to stay vigilant and get vaccinated when they’re eligible as the process continues to help avoid more surges, especially since more infectious variants are circulating nationwide and in Arizona.

“We don’t want to see those (variants) gain a strong foothold here, become dominant and we see another surge of patients. We need to continue to do these things that have helped us improve,” he said.

Dr. Joshua LaBaer, director of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, struck a similar chord during a Wednesday media briefing, recommending continued masking until many more people have been vaccinated.

“It’s important to remind everybody that only a small fraction of people have been vaccinated so far. Right now in the state of Arizona, around 80% of individuals have never been exposed to virus and have not yet been vaccinated, and those people are still at risk of disease,” he said.

LaBaer said people who have been vaccinated should still wear masks around those who haven’t gotten their shots in order to prevent spreading infection and possibly severe outcomes from the illness.

He said vaccine data on severe illness is looking very good and that the approved vaccines appear to be holding up against variant strains as well. The key will be to make it through the next months as the vaccine rollout continues to reach more and more people, LaBaer said.

— Alison Steinbach

3:30 p.m. Wednesday: US ‘on track’ to have enough vaccine for all by end of July

Top U.S. health officials said Wednesday that the U.S. will have enough vaccine for every American by the “end of July,” echoing an estimate from the president hours earlier but contradicting predictions from the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

“We are on track to have enough vaccine supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July,” Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said in a task force briefing Wednesday.

President Joe Biden offered a similar timeline in a CNN town hall Tuesday night. “By the end of July, we’ll have over 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate every single American,” Biden said.

The estimates contradict recent predictions from Dr. Anthony Fauci. Last week, Fauci said April would be “open season” for vaccinations and that any adult will be able to get vaccinated. On Tuesday, he walked back that timeline, telling CNN that vaccines may not be available to the general public until mid-May or even June.

— USA Today

Noon Wednesday: Arizona passes 800,000 identified COVID-19 cases and 15,000 known deaths

Arizona passed 15,000 known COVID-19 deaths and 800,000 identified cases Wednesday as the state again reported relatively lower case counts and declining hospitalizations for the disease.

Arizona’s seven-day, new-case average ranked 12th on Tuesday among all states, after ranking first and second for much of January, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker.

The state’s average daily COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people over the past seven days ranked third in the nation as of Tuesday, per the CDC. 

Arizona’s newly reported 82 deaths brought the known COVID-19 death count to 15,063. The state surpassed 14,000 deaths on Feb. 6 after passing 13,000 deaths on Jan. 29, just one week after it passed 12,000 and two weeks after 11,000 deaths. The state exceeded 10,000 known deaths on Jan. 9. Arizona’s first known death from the disease occurred in mid-March.

Many of the deaths occurred days or weeks prior, due to reporting delays and death certificate matching.

In just over one year since the first case was announced in Arizona, a total of 801,055 COVID-19 cases have been identified across the state. February has seen relatively lower case counts, with 1,315 new cases added on Wednesday.

— Alison Steinbach

11:45 a.m. Wednesday: GCU expects ‘normal’ fall semester as COVID-19 cases stay low at Arizona universities

COVID-19 cases at Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Grand Canyon University are continuing to decrease each week, a hopeful pattern mirroring statewide data as Arizona’s seven-day, new-case average ranking dropped to 14th place on Sunday among all states. 

Northern Arizona University’s positivity rate has been gradually increasing over the past three weeks but was still below 5%. A rate of 5% or less is considered a benchmark showing the spread of the virus is under control. 

With numbers dropping consistently and the statewide vaccine rollout underway, GCU eagerly announced in a university press release it’s planning for a “100% back to normal” fall semester, including fully in-person classes, a move-in and welcome week experience, and extracurricular activities.

“We will have backup plans in place if some level of limitations on activities are necessary depending on the severity of COVID-19 at the time, but we are hopeful that the increased availability of COVID vaccines and increased herd immunity by September will allow campus operations to return to normal,” the release said. 

— Jamie Landers

6:30 p.m. Tuesday: Winter weather brings Arizona vaccine shipments to a halt, appointments canceled 

As extreme winter weather conditions sweep across the country, the Arizona Department of Health Services announced Tuesday evening Arizona is the latest state to see a delay in COVID-19 vaccine shipments. This update comes roughly five hours after the department said they were unsure if the storms would cause any local impact. 

Department spokesperson Steve Elliott said only some local health departments have canceled appointments for the next two days. However, Elliott added, “it appears there are enough Pfizer doses available for state vaccination sites and other sites administering Pfizer to maintain operations without interruption.”

Those state-run sites continuing with Pfizer distribution include Phoenix Municipal Stadium and State Farm Stadium in Glendale. It is unclear which local health departments have canceled appointments. 

“ADHS is in regular contact with federal and local partners to monitor this situation,” Elliott wrote in an email.  

Arizona was expected to receive a total of 1,490,100 doses this week. More than 1.2 million doses had been administered statewide as of Tuesday, with 286,738 individuals fully vaccinated with two shots, according to state data.

— Jamie Landers

3 p.m. Tuesday: Pima County to expand vaccine eligibility to those ages 65 and up

Adults 65 and over will be able to register for COVID-19 vaccine appointments at Pima county sites starting Thursday morning, the Pima County Health Department announced Tuesday.

Individuals in eligible phases can pre-register for shots at the department’s vaccine registration webpage. There is also a county call center that can help with registration from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at 520-222-0119.

The county opened registration to those 70 and older on Feb. 4. This change to include those 65 to 69 helps the county match its eligibility groups with those of the new state-run POD at the University of Arizona.

“We are continuing to meet or exceed our goals for moving through the priority groups and look forward to having the state’s new site to help us keep up that pace,” health director Dr. Theresa Cullen said in a news release. “The 65 to 69 age group is going to be one of the biggest we have added thus far.”

Cullen said there is still significant demand for appointments from those 70 and older. The limiting factor to adding more eligible groups is limited vaccine supply, she said.

About 196,000 total vaccine doses had been administered countywide as of Tuesday, with almost 41,800 people fully vaccinated with two shots, according to state data.

— Alison Steinbach

1:15 p.m. Tuesday: Unclear how weather-related delays may affect Arizona’s vaccine supply

As extreme cold weather, snow and ice wreak havoc across much of the nation, causing power outages and potential transportation delays, some states are expecting delays in their weekly COVID-19 vaccine shipments.

The Arizona Department of Health Services does not yet know what the impact may be locally.

“We are hearing of shipment delays due to the weather but don’t know the specifics or potential impacts at this time. We don’t believe any delays will affect operations at the state PODs,” spokesperson Steve Elliott wrote in an email midday Tuesday.

The Associated Press reported that President Joe Biden’s administration said delays in vaccine delivery may be likely due to the severe weather and impacts at FedEx and UPS shipping hubs.

Florida officials said the state has been told its shipment would be delayed. Texas health officials are expecting their shipment to be delayed until at least Wednesday, and some appointments are expected to be canceled due to the extreme weather, according to USA TODAY.

Arizona was expected to receive a total of 1,490,100 doses this week. More than 1.2 million doses had been administered statewide as of Tuesday, with 286,738 individuals fully vaccinated with two shots, according to state data.

— Alison Steinbach

12:45 p.m. Tuesday: YMCA to give free rides for vaccine appointments

The Valley of the Sun YMCA in Phoenix announced that it will provide free rides to aging adults for COVID-19 vaccination appointments starting Tuesday, according to the organization’s Facebook page. 

The individual must be 65 years or older and have a vaccine appointment to qualify for a free ride, according to the YMCA, which was also recruiting volunteers for drivers.

The announcement came Tuesday after many seniors in Arizona have expressed frustration in not being able to be vaccinated due to barriers like transportation. 

Anyone who needs a ride to their appointment should contact the YMCA’s Outreach Programs for Ahwatukee Seniors (YOPAS) at 602-212-6088 or email opas@vosymca.org, according to the YMCA. All riding and volunteer inquiries will be handled through YOPAS.

— Audrey Jensen

11:15 a.m. Tuesday: Arizona nearing 800,000 known COVID-19 cases

Arizona reported relatively low new COVID-19 cases and deaths Tuesday as hospitalizations continued to decline and the state inched closer to 800,000 identified cases and 15,000 known deaths from the disease.

Arizona’s seven-day, new-case average ranked 14th on Sunday among all states, after ranking first and second for much of January, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker.

The state’s rate of new positive cases over the past seven days was 31.9 cases per 100,000 people, per the CDC. South Carolina was first with 55.9 cases per 100,000. The U.S. average for new cases was 28.3 cases per 100,000 people.

Arizona’s newly reported three deaths brought the known COVID-19 death count to 14,981. The state surpassed 14,000 deaths on Feb. 6 after passing 13,000 deaths on Jan. 29, just one week after it passed 12,000 and two weeks after 11,000 deaths.

Many of the deaths occurred days or weeks prior, due to reporting delays and death certificate matching.

In just over one year since the first case was announced in Arizona, a total of 799,740 COVID-19 cases have been identified across the state. February has seen relatively lower case counts, with 1,132 new cases added on Tuesday.

— Alison Steinbach 

9 a.m. Tuesday: Registration opens for UA vaccine site in Tucson

Registration for nearly 12,000 appointments at a state-run COVID-19 vaccination site at the University of Arizona in Tucson opened up at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The site, which will operate at the university’s mall area, is the result of a partnership between the Arizona Department of Health Services, the university and the Pima County Health Department.

The existing university site has been vaccinating Priority 1B individuals since the week of Jan. 19, but ADHS said the state vaccination site will expand the site’s capacity and hours of operation.

The transition to a state site will create room for the approximately 12,000 appointments that opened up on Tuesday. The site will eventually be operated 24/7 and, at full capacity, will be able to serve up to 6,000 people per day, ADHS said.

Individuals can register online through the ADHS website or over the phone at 1-844-542-8201.

— BrieAnna Frank

COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates are falling nationwide, but experts talk in dire terms about what will happen if variants of the virus are allowed to surge this spring. 

“I’m very worried we’re letting our foot off the brakes,” said Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 

The U.S. saw a spike in cases last spring, mainly in the Northeast, last summer in the South, and November through January pretty much everywhere. As the nation’s death toll from COVID-19 approaches half a million people, public health experts said they dread the possibility of a fourth wave. 

“We are done with it, but it is not done with us,” added Dr. Luciana Borio, former acting chief scientist of the Food and Drug Administration.

— Karen Weintraub, USA Today

The White Mountain Apache Tribe reported zero new COVID-19 cases for three days in a row. This comes after the tribe reached its highest level of new COVID-19 cases in December since July and ordered a three-week lockdown.

A post on the tribe’s Facebook on Monday updated the case count by zero, leaving the number of active COVID-19 cases down to 24 from 30 on Sunday.

The number of COVID-19 deaths increased from 48 to 49.

The tribe has had 3,904 positive cases since April 1, when it confirmed its first case. As of Friday, 8,328 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose. With a population of 13,420, that makes 62% of the tribe vaccinated.

— Nienke Onneweer

6 p.m. Monday: Coconino County starts vaccinating all of Phase 1B, which includes restaurant workers

Coconino County has started giving COVID-19 vaccinations to restaurant workers, utility employees, and other “essential workers” in the 1B non-priority vaccine category.

“We’re now vaccinating all of 1A and all of 1B. We reached out to Coconino County this week and this weekend and we saw that we were going to have some appointments available this week,” said Dr. John Mougin, the chief quality officer for Northern Arizona Healthcare, which oversees two hospitals and is operating a vaccine site at an Elks Lodge in Flagstaff.

“I got to interact today with some restaurant workers that were very happy to be receiving the vaccination,” Mougin said. “As you know, in restaurants it’s hard to eat and wear masks at the same time, so they are very happy to be receiving the vaccine to lower their risk going forward.”

Mougin said Northern Arizona Healthcare’s vaccine site still has appointments open for this week and says people who are eligible and who live or work in Coconino County should sign up on the Northern Arizona Healthcare website, or on the Coconino County COVID-19 vaccine web page.

Coconino County residents who do not have a computer or internet service may call the county at 928-679-7300, Mougin said. He asks that people seeking a vaccine appointment not call the hospital or the Elks Lodge.

Northern Arizona Healthcare is hoping to open vaccination clinics in Camp Verde and Sedona within the next couple of weeks, he said.

Since 1B is a large population, it’s hard to say how long it will take for that phase to get vaccinated, but Mougin is hopeful appointments for 1C can start by late spring.

The expanded 1B population includes adults with high-risk conditions living in congregate settings; power and utility workers; food and agriculture-related occupations such as packaging and distribution workers, grocery and restaurant workers; transportation and material moving occupations such as public transportation providers, airlines, gas stations, auto shop workers, and other transportation network providers; state and local government workers who provide critical services for the continuity of government; and other essential workers such as business and financial services, supply chain for critical goods, funeral services and critical traders.

— Stephanie Innes

4 p.m. Monday: Help sought for events workers affected by club closures due to COVID-19

KUPD is urging listeners to Adopt A Roadie in a new promotion aimed at helping events workers whose livelihood has been impacted by the COVID-19 closures of the past 11 months. 

The hard-rock station will hold food drives through March at select Safeway and Albertsons locations as well as a drive-through distribution to support Musically Fed in its mission to provide food and essentials to local live event workers in dire need.

Partners include #DrinkInAZ, Jack Daniels, Sweet James and Safeway/Albertsons Nourishing Neighbors Community Relief.

The food-collection campaign will span six weeks from Feb. 15 through March 26,  culminating in a drive-through distribution event at the end of March hosted by Rhino Staging and Video West.

Ninety-eight families with members who are stagehands, audio and visual techs, riggers, and forklift drivers who make live events possible will receive boxes filled with dry goods collected during the campaign, as well as produce and protein from Resurrection Street Ministry.

Complete details, including a list of food items requested, can be heard weekdays on-air with Fitz Madrid from 2 to 7 p.m. or by visiting 98kupd.com/adopt-a-roadie/.

— Ed Masley

10:30 a.m. Monday: Phoenix is paying its employees to get COVID-19 vaccine

Phoenix is paying its employees $75 if they get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Other cities in the Phoenix area — such as Glendale, Peoria and Tempe — are rewarding their employees for receiving the vaccine, as well, either by giving them a discount on their health insurance or giving them wellness points that could add up to a discount on their insurance.

Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher said the city created an employee safety awards program that gives employees the money when they show proof that they have received both doses of the vaccine.

It’s a way to incentivize employees to get the vaccine, Zuercher said, which is important for the health of the employees but also the health of the entire community, since employees “are out with the community every day.”

The city programs come as many large private-sector employers announce they are doing the same. Dollar General, Kroger, McDonald’s and Olive Garden are paying their employees either a flat rate or a certain number of hours of pay to get the vaccine.

— Jen Fifield 

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