Arizona health officials warn of week-to-week COVID-19 case increase
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Health officials are issuing a reminder to Arizonans that COVID-19 is still an issue after the state has seen steady week-to-week increases in cases. On Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services Interim Director Don Herrington wrote that public health officials across the state have noticed a trend of cases increasing weekly since early April. More than 6,500 cases recorded for last week represent a small fraction of the 151,000-plus cases recorded during the week of Jan. 9, when the Omicron variant surged across Arizona and the country.
Arizona’s steady increase mirrors what’s being seen across the country, particularly in northeastern states. Herrington says the state’s current uptick in cases isn’t putting a strain on any health care systems. He credits that to the fact that 71% of Arizonans are vaccinated, 43% of adults are boosted and many were infected during the winter surge. Currently ICU bed capacity is at 73% and inpatient beds are at 87%.
While Arizona sees this upward trend, two bills restricting mitigation efforts to the pandemic are heading to Governor Doug Ducey’s desk to sign. The Arizona Senate approved a bill preventing state and local governments from requiring masks in their buildings. The GOP-led Senate also voted to block the state from ever adding a COVID-19 vaccine to the list of inoculations schoolchildren must get to attend public school. State Democrats oppose both bills, saying they take away effective public infection control measures. Gov. Ducey has already signed a series of bills limiting the ability of any future governor to respond to another pandemic in the ways he did.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the COVID-19 community level in Arizona counties is still low. The CDC bases its community level on the percentage of hospital beds being used by COVID patients, the rate of coronavirus admissions, and the rate of new cases in the area. While Herrington says Arizona is far from a surge, the recent upward trend of cases should serve as a reminder for Arizonans that COVID-19 is still around and that everyone should still consider wearing masks, getting vaccinated, and getting tested if experiencing any Covid-related symptoms.
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