The Pima County Health Department, in conjunction with Arizona State University and the Arizona Department of Health Services, will offer a free COVID-19 saliva test starting Wednesday.
The tests will be administered at the Ellie Towne Flowing Wells Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Hours this week for Wednesday, July 29, and Friday, July 31, will be from 3 to 7 p.m.
The county is hoping to administer 240 tests for every four-hour block, or upward of 400 tests a day, officials said. Registration is required at pima.gov/covid19testing.
The opening of the sites comes a few weeks after the county’s board of supervisors unanimously agreed to enter into a one-year, $2 million contract with ASU’s Biodesign Institute that allows the institute’s high-capacity labs to test samples from clinics in Pima County.
The money for the contract comes from a portion of the county’s $98.4 million in federal funding from the CARES Act.
“Testing must be done in a timely manner to allow the public and medical providers to identify, isolate and prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” Pima County Health Director Theresa Cullen said at the time. “Our community, like many across Arizona, continues to struggle to find the testing materials — the swabs, the transport media — and the people power needed to complete tests. ASU’s Biodesign Institute gives us another resource to meet our needs.”
Earlier this month, the county opened its first free testing site at the Kino Event Center, 2805 E. Ajo Way. Nasal swab tests are available by appointment 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. No walk-in testing will be done as registration is required at pima.gov/covid19testing.
Pima County has reported 15,109 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday. There have been 418 known COVID-19 deaths in the Tucson area.
Tucson sees surge in vehicle, motorcycle fatalities despite virus-related decrease in traffic
Tucson’s streets have been less busy but more deadly during the coronavirus pandemic, police data shows.
Fatal car and motorcycle crashes have more than tripled so far this year compared to last year despite less traffic on the roads, Tucson Police Department statistics show.
Eighteen drivers and passengers have died so far this year in vehicle crashes other than motorcycles, compared to five such deaths in the same period last year, the data show.
Motorcycle fatalities, which are recorded separately, also have spiked within city limits to 17 deaths this year compared to five this time last year.
Traffic deaths were down slightly last year in Tucson from the previous year.
Meanwhile, pedestrian deaths have declined to 13 so far this year compared to 17 last year. And one bicyclist has died, compared to zero at this point in 2019.
Wildfires such as the Bighorn Fire north of Tucson leave the ground charred and unable to absorb water, which can increase flood risks. “Even …
Nearly a dozen U.S.states have seen death rates rise in lighter traffic, according to the nonprofit National Safety Council, though the increase has not been statewide in Arizona.
The Tucson trend came as a surprise to police Capt. Diana Duffy, the department’s traffic safety coordinator.
“I think we all expected accidents to decrease and deaths to decrease,” Duffy said in an interview. “Instead collisions are down and fatalities are up.”
It turns out that when streets are empty, some drivers tend to get lead feet.
“Excessive speed” was the top factor in most of the recent road deaths, Duffy said.
Impairment also was a factor in some cases, she said, and noted a national survey that found a 200% surge in alcohol sales this past spring.
TPD is aiming to curb the death toll by assigning motorcycle officers to patrol near crash-prone intersections, Duffy said.
It’s hard to say how much lighter Tucson traffic has become, though it “absolutely” is occurring, said Blake Olofson, a traffic engineer at City Hall.
A precise count would be expensive and impractical because a full-scale count typically is done once a year, he said.
But some trends emerged in the limited research that exists, a joint study between the city and the University of Arizona that used location data from smart phones to assess Tucson’s traffic capacity.
The research showed a noticeable decrease in traffic on Tucson streets when various stay-at-home orders were in place from around mid-March through mid-May.
The trend to higher traffic fatality rates does not extend to roads policed by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department or by Arizona state troopers, those agencies said.
Fatal crashes on county roads stand at 18 so far this year, about the same as last year, officials said.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, which polices state highways, has seen a steep decline in fatalities. The death toll so far this year is 160 compared to 200 in 2019, officials said.
At least 11 states from coast to coast have seen spikes in traffic deaths, the National Safety Council said.
The council released a preliminary estimate last month based on April data from all 50 states showing a 36% spike in fatality rate per miles, as the number of miles driven dropped 40%.
In a statement on the safety council’s website, the group’s president and CEO urged drivers to be civic-minded in the era of COVID19.
“Right now, in the midst of a global pandemic, we should take it as our civic duty to drive safely,” Lorraine M. Martin said.
“If we won’t do it for ourselves we should do it for our first responders, our law enforcement and our health-care workers who are rightly focused on coronavirus patients and should not be overwhelmed by preventable car crashes.”
Six sites throughout Tucson handed out masks to residents as a part of the citywide #MaskUpTucson campaign. Each site, located in a respective…
Contact reporter Justin Sayers at email@example.com or 573-4192.
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