Vaccine

Jennifer Martinez of the Mariposa Community Health Center prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine during a drive-through clinic in Nogales on Monday, Feb. 8.

More people have received the COVID-19 vaccine in Santa Cruz County than the number of county residents who have tested positive for the infection, according to state and county data.

The milestone was reached in the past week as vaccination efforts chugged along and new infections continued to slow in the area.

As of Monday, 8,584 people had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the county, with a total of 10,324 doses administered, according to Arizona Department of Health Services data. Also on Monday, the local health department reported that 7,543 total coronavirus cases had been recorded in the county, which has a U.S. Census-estimated population of 46,498.

The numbers aren’t directly comparable, however. Case numbers represent positive tests traced to individuals who reside in Santa Cruz County, and do not include people with asymptomatic infections that aren't detected. Vaccination statistics, meanwhile, refer to the doses dispensed through the county government – whether to local residents, or people like health professionals and federal law enforcement agents who work locally and live outside of the county.

It’s also not clear if the vaccination numbers from the state include federal programs that have sent vaccines to local residents, including a new program offered through the local Walgreens store.

Still, the threshold reached last week points to significant progress in the local vaccination effort and the growing number of individuals who likely have some immunity against the disease – either through vaccination or as a result of fighting off the infection.

It comes as the rate of new cases in Santa Cruz County – once a hotspot for the pandemic in a state that, earlier this year, had the highest rate of new infections in the country – continues to cool down. In the week leading up to Monday, the county reported just 65 new cases, the lowest weekly total since late October. The county also added six deaths and four new hospitalizations in the week ending Monday.

In Nogales, Sonora, a total of 4,258 cases of COVID-19 and 465 deaths had been reported as of Sunday night, according to information from the state government. That marked a one-week increase of 27 cases and 11 deaths. The city remained in the “high risk” category, or code orange, for the second straight week, according to a risk map released by the state health secretariat on Saturday.

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