Board of Supervisors

Those waiting to hear about their second vaccine dose after visiting the Green Valley pop-up sites could be getting an email or call as early as next week. Until then, Green Valley Council President Debbie Kenyon wants people to remain patient.

Kenyon said Premier Medical Group is working to finalize plans to notify people who received their first coronavirus vaccine dose during the Feb. 3-5 vaccination sites at Santa Cruz Valley Regional Hospital and the Community Performance & Art Center. Premier is the county's contractor providing logistics and assistance to vaccinate rural and semi-urban areas.

On Tuesday, Pima County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia said recent state cuts in vaccine allocations wouldn't affect the county giving second doses in Green Valley.

Garcia said recent pop-up sites by partners like United Community Health Center's in Vail, Sahuarita, Amado and Robles would get their second doses as well. But the state's cuts will reduce future pop-up sites for first-dose dispensing.

"What worries me is the first doses," he said. "So that means given the amount of stock that we get is finite. What it means is that there may be fewer first-dose appointments until the vaccine availability loosens up."

Despite dwindling allotments, the county is increasing the demand by allowing people 65 and older to begin registering for vaccines on Thursday. Garcia said the move was to prevent confusion among residents as the state's POD (point of dispensing) at the University of Arizona which opens on Thursday.

Arizona already allows people 65 and older to register for vaccines, but Pima County still restricts registration to people 70 years and older.

On Friday, an Arizona Department of Health Services spokesman told the Green Valley News the county would receive 16,330 Moderna doses. He said another 2,000 Moderna doses would go to the UA and 5,850 Pfizer doses would go to Tucson Medical Center and Banner Health.

He said the total represented 14 percent of the state's weekly allocation – Pima County makes up about 14 percent of Arizona's population.

However, Pima County does not control allocation sent to TMC, Banner or UA's state POD. The county allocates doses to rural and semi-urban areas like Green Valley and Sahuarita from the share it controls. The county also stated doses going to the state's POD at UA come from doses that would have otherwise remained under the county's control.

"It's one of these things where is the glass half empty or is the glass half full," Garcia said. "Generally, I tend to be an optimist."

But Garcia found there is still some benefit to the county despite losing control of the vaccines going to UA.

"Does this help the county," he asked. "You know every single time that a person is vaccinated, it helps the county. It really does. It helps all of us because we need as many people as possible vaccinated to get to that critical 75-80 percent of the population."

But there is a downside as well, and it impacts rural, semi-urban and disadvantaged communities. Garica added it makes vaccine management and County Health staff's lives more challenging, and came with trade-offs.

Garcia said the county could have allocated the 2,000 Moderna doses to federally-qualified health center partners and community pop-ups.

"Does it have a negative impact on us? Yes," he said. "Is the net-positive more people being vaccinated worth that? I think the jury is still out."

Current numbers

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that the county's case numbers continue to improve.

"Infection rates are dropping," he said. "We're seeing some fairly significant drops. Hospital and medical capacity is improving. And so that's positive."

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 148 positive cases in Pima County on Feb. 12 compared to 1,206 on Jan. 12. AZDHS also reported 34 percent of adult ICU beds statewide in use by COVID-19 patients on Monday. On Jan. 15, the state reported 64 of its ICU beds occupied by COVID-positive patients.

Garcia told supervisors the rolling average is around 200 positive cases per 100,000 people in Pima County.

"Like I mentioned before, for the last five weeks, we have had a decrement in the number of cases," he said. "And I believe that we are in the process of getting much better, much faster."

Garcia credited COVID-19 mitigation guidelines for reducing recent spikes in positive cases. He also cited reductions in people who tested positive reporting travel, attending gatherings or going to bars and restaurants in the last 14 days.

Green Valley

Kenyon said she hopes the notification process will start next week and anticipates doses arriving in the first week of March.

"That's what we have been told, and they're still saying that," she said.

Kenyon said Green Valley people who received shots at SCVRH and CPAC would receive an email for their second dose. People who didn't provide an email address will receive phone calls.

However, Kenyon wants people to remain patient until those emails and phone calls go out.

"For now, you don't need to call because it's being worked on," she said. "When we have the answer, the message will go out through all of our media sources."

Jorge Encinas | 520-547-9732