517 inmates at Tucson prison test positive for COVID-19

Nearly half of the inmates housed in a Tucson minimum security prison have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Whetstone unit has 1,066 inmates in a dormitory-style setting and according to the Arizona Department of Corrections, 517 of those inmates have tested positive for coronavirus.

The department of corrections said the positive cases were discovered as part of a push to test all 39,000 state prisoners. The infected inmates have been separated from the general population.

Last week, inmates held a peaceful walkout and reportedly told staff they want to remain on lockdown to cut down on the spread of the virus.

Before corrections officials discovered the cases at the Whetstone unit, the agency reported 890 inmates at Arizona state prisons and 564 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

Six inmate deaths have been confirmed.

On August 5, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 1,698 newly confirmed coronavirus cases and 87 additional deaths.

The state has documented 182,203 COVID-19 infections and 3,932 deaths overall, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Arizona’s seven-day average for newly reported cases was 2,081.57 as of August 4, the lowest since June 19, according to tracking by The Associated Press. The seven-day average of newly reported deaths fell to 62.43, the lowest since July 14.

Ron Coleman, a spokesman for Maricopa County, said there have been 490 cases of homeless people infected with the virus since the pandemic began among the county’s approximately 7,400 homeless.

At least nine people self-identifying as homeless have died in Maricopa County, including one person at a shelter, Coleman said.

But the overall spread of the coronavirus in Arizona has gradually slowed amid requirements for face coverings and a statewide order closing businesses such as bars and gyms after Arizona emerged as a hotspot for COVID-19.

The number of Arizona hospital patients confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19 fell below 2,000 on August 4 for the first time in more than six weeks, state health officials said. The total of 1,945 was the lowest since June 20

And the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds fell to 618, the fewest since June 24.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.

However, for some people who contract the virus, especially those who are older or have underlying health conditions, it can cause more severe illness and death.

The vast majority of people diagnosed with COVID-19 recover.


Associated Press writer Paul Davenport in Phoenix contributed to this report.

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Monitor your health daily

MAP: Worldwide interactive Coronavirus case data

MAP: Arizona Coronavirus cases by zip code

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CDC: How coronavirus spreads, symptoms, prevention, treatment, FAQ

Arizona COVID-19 resources, FAQ: azdhs.gov/coronavirus

On CoronavirusNOW.com, you'll find extensive coverage about COVID-19, including breaking news from around the country, exclusive interviews with health officials, and informative content from a variety of public health resources.


Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus, but may put you in a better position to fight it.

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.

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