Due to an ongoing downward trend in COVID cases, Patagonia Elementary and Middle Schools went back on campus using the hybrid model on March 1. The High School is continuing in distance learning. Superintendent Kenny Hayes reported, “It is more difficult to bring the high school students on campus; their class sizes are larger than at the lower grades, so it is harder to socially distance. Sports are continuing, including basketball, which will wrap up soon, with tennis and baseball beginning in several weeks.”
The recent decline in cases and deaths has been dramatic. In the state of Arizona, there were over 100, sometimes reaching 150, deaths per day from COVID throughout December and January. On Feb. 14, the number of people daily deaths dropped below 50. While all cases and deaths are significant and unacceptable, it is heartening to see numbers continue to decline, probably due to increased vaccination, the immunity of people who have had the disease, and improved social distancing since the holiday period.
Santa Cruz County (SCC) has seen a downward trend in COVID case and deaths over the past several weeks as well. After a stretch during which cases per day hovered between 75 and 100+ following Thanksgiving and Christmas, there has been a solid decline in daily cases. Over the past month, the County has seen fewer than 25 new cases per day, sometimes dipping to the single digits.
Vaccine administration in SCC has seen a steady climb, with the exception of one week’s delay due to the winter storms which tied up vaccine delivery. In the week of Feb. 22, the County administered over 600 doses per day. As of Feb 26, 9188 first doses have been given, and 4308 people in the county are fully immunized. According to the ADHS zip code map, as of March 1, 134 people in Elgin, 261 people in Sonoita and 314 people in Patagonia had been vaccinated.
There have been criticisms regarding the County registration system, with individuals complaining that they haven’t been called and that they don’t know for sure that they are registered. According to Jeff Terrell, County Health Director, the system will show a green check mark when a person has registered successfully. Then it is a matter of waiting until you are called up. As of March 1, vaccines are still being given to the 1B group, finishing up teachers and focusing on essential workers (food workers, store workers, etc). New subgroups will be added as soon as sufficient doses become available. They hope to continue receiving at least the 1,800 doses they have been allocated each week for the past several weeks.
“It is crucial that people who have registered answer their phones. We always leave a message, but sometimes we don’t hear back for days. By then, we have moved on to call others,” Terrell said. He suggested that people answer any call beginning with 520-375- (a County office landline) or 520-604- (possibly a County worker’s cell phone). Occasionally, the call may even show up as a blocked number.
“If you are not willing to answer a call from an unknown number, then check your messages often, and get right back to us,” he advised.
For those who do contract the coronavirus, immunotherapy is a treatment option. Monoclonal antibody therapy (mAB), common in cancer treatment, was approved last fall to treat people who have had symptoms for fewer than ten days. It can lessen COVID symptoms and duration and reduce risks of needing hospitalization. The mAB treatment is a one-time infusion that takes several hours, including prep and post-infusion observation. It can come with side effects; if you are interested, contact your primary care physician for more information and a referral. He or she will help you find locations to receive the therapy.
One local resident, who did not wish to be identified, reported that she sought mAB therapy and was able to receive it nine days after first symptoms appeared. She reported that, just two days later, she started to feel much better and, two weeks later, had almost completely recovered, except for lingering fatigue.