Local health authorities were still focusing on vaccinating law enforcement officers and residents 75 or older against COVID-19 on Monday as they waited for more doses to arrive.
“We are looking at the other subgroups to see if we can start incorporating them in, but we’re trying to finish off that 75-and older population first,” County Health Services Director Jeff Terrell said on Monday.
Santa Cruz County is currently in Phase 1B for administering vaccinations. And according to a letter sent to Gov. Doug Ducey last week by the County Board of Supervisors, the 1B subgroups currently eligible for vaccination in Santa Cruz County include about 3,200 residents ages 75 and older, and 2,000 federal law enforcement officers.
Other 1B subgroups include education and childcare workers, people laboring in critical industries/essential services, adults with high-risk medical conditions living in congregate settings, and people 65 and older.
The supervisors’ letter to Ducey, in which they described a shortfall of vaccines in Santa Cruz County and asked him to allocate larger numbers of doses to border counties, said the community has an additional 10,000 individuals in the 65-74 age range alone.
“When you include teachers, preexisting medical conditions, the men and women that are feeding our community… the situation is simply unacceptable and exasperated with the current allocation,” the letter states.
Data from the Arizona Department of Health Services reported Monday that 3,181 vaccines had been administered so far in Santa Cruz County. Terrell said the number was “probably about right,” and added that it included some second doses, though he wasn’t certain how many.
People in Phase 1A of the vaccine plan – primarily medical professionals – began receiving their first doses in late December and are now ready for their second dose of the two-shot inoculation.
Dr. Eladio Pereira of Mariposa Community Health Center, which has handled almost all of the local vaccinations, said MCHC had administered 3,152 doses as of Friday – less than 100 of which were second doses – and had 190 still on hand to start this week.
However, 1,800 additional doses that were expected to arrive Monday still hadn’t come as of 4 p.m., and Pereira said they had 400 appointments scheduled for Tuesday.
The supervisors’ letter to Ducey, dated Jan. 19, noted the precarious supply-and-demand situation in the community, saying: “As of this afternoon, every vaccine we have received is in someone’s arm and we are ready to expand our program, but we need more vaccines.”
The board noted that the county is prepared, with the help of the business sector, to set up points of distribution to administer greater numbers of vaccinations, and were only waiting for more doses to arrive before moving forward.
The supervisors noted that it was the third time they had formally asked the state for greater vaccine allocations, but had yet to receive acknowledgement of their requests.
Cases in decline
In other coronavirus-related news, Santa Cruz County confirmed 252 new COVID-19 cases among local residents during the week ending Monday, the lowest weekly number of new cases in two months.
The number of new cases in the community has been declining since the beginning of the year.
During the week leading up to Monday, Jan. 4, there were 478 new cases confirmed among county residents. The weekly number dropped slightly to 446 on Jan. 11, then fell to 357 on Jan. 18 and to 252 on Jan. 25. That was the lowest number of new cases recorded during a week ending Monday since Nov. 16.
The total number of COVID-19 cases confirmed among Santa Cruz County residents since the start of the pandemic was 7,288.
The total number of confirmed deaths among local residents since the start of the pandemic was 140 as of Monday, a weekly increase of eight. During the previous week, the county had recorded 14 new deaths.
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 were at 494 on Monday, a weekly increase of 19. The week prior, 20 new hospitalizations of county residents were recorded by the County Health Services Department.
In Nogales, Sonora, there had been 4,023 cases of COVID-19 and 430 deaths from the disease confirmed through Sunday, according to a report from the state health director. Those numbers represented weekly increases of 129 cases and 16 deaths.
Also on Sunday, news media in Sonora reported that the state government had extended for two weeks a curfew and other restrictions currently in place in seven cities – including Nogales, Sonora – considered to be in “code red” pandemic status.
The restrictions, first announced Jan. 10, include a curfew running from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night. Businesses and services except pharmacies, hospitals and emergency services are required to close during those hours, and residents can only venture out in cases of emergency or to acquire necessary medicine.
In addition to the curfew, the code red rules ban all large gatherings and require businesses including nightclubs, casinos, cinemas and theaters and museums to remain closed at all times.