The Santa Cruz County Health Services Department confirmed 64 new COVID-19 cases among local residents during the seven days ending Monday – an average of just over nine per day.

The previous three weeks ending Monday saw the county confirm 68, 69 and 94 new cases. There had been 8,628 total cases confirmed since the start of the pandemic as of Monday.

Also on Monday, the county reported a pandemic total of 597 hospitalizations for COVID among local residents. That marked a one-week increase of six hospitalizations, and an increase of 10 since the beginning of September.

There were 10 hospitalizations of local residents confirmed in all of August, seven during the months of both June and July.

County data showed that the deaths of 188 local residents had been attributed to COVID-19 as of Monday, one more than a week prior.

Cloudy skies caused by West Coast wildfires

Smoke from ongoing wildfires in California and Oregon has made its way to the local area, resulting in hazy skies over Santa Cruz County during the past several days.

“The smoke is here to stay until later this week when enough flow may push it out of the region,” the National Weather Service in Tucson said on Monday, adding: “The worst days will be the next couple as at least some smoke will disperse and settle.”

Massive fires burning in the Western United States and Canada since early this summer have sent smoke and ash wafting across the country and filling skies as far away as the East Coast. But prevailing winds had largely kept it away from Southern Arizona, until recently.

Meanwhile, the area remains in the midst of a hot and dry spell that has seen high temperatures of 95 or 96 at the Nogales International Airport since Sept. 8. The normal high for this time of year in Nogales is 91-92.

The National Weather Service forecast anticipates that the hot weather will remain throughout the week.

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