While most of the United States has seen a steady decline in new coronavirus cases recently, Arizona was an outlier.
The state has not been inundated with another wave of the virus, but public health experts are concerned about a steady increase in cases and hospitalizations. As of Monday, Arizona’s daily average was up 21 percent in the past two weeks, tying it to Wyoming for the largest increase in the nation over that period. Only three other states reported increases of more than 10 percent during this period: Washington, Oregon and Missouri.
Arizona’s new daily fall load is 10 per 100,000 people, still below the national average of 15 per 100,000. In the past 14 days, the country has seen a 26 percent decrease in new coronavirus cases, according to a New York Times, and 28 states have seen a decrease of 15 percent or more according to a New York Times database.
Mr Humble said the Arizona surge likely wouldn’t result in a significant increase in deaths, which have declined in the state. Most older adults and other people in the state who are at increased risk of developing serious illnesses have already been vaccinated, while the majority of the new cases are in their twenties, thirties, and forties who are more likely to have milder cases is higher.
Mr Humble said the surge in cases “had a completely different public health impact” than it did a few months ago, when far fewer people were vaccinated.
“We’re not going to have the kind of deadly experiences we’d have in December, January or February,” said Humble. Nevertheless, there was “a remarkable upward movement in the beds of the general ward and also in the intensive care unit”.
Arizona was slow to introduce restrictions last summer and was quick to remove them as falls have skyrocketed and ICU beds are nearly full. For over a month, from early June to mid-July, the state reported new cases at the highest rate in the country for its size, peaking at 3,800 per day.
In January, Arizona again had its highest daily incidence rate in a while. At one point it was averaging over 8,000 a day, more than double that of the summer summit.
Governor Doug Ducey signed an executive order in March that lifted all Covid-19 restrictions in the state and prevented local governments from issuing mask mandates.
Mr. Humble said politics may have made Arizona more vulnerable: “There has been no slowdown here at all, and it hasn’t been for months,” he said.
Approximately 41 percent of Arizonans received a first dose of the vaccine, and 30 percent were fully vaccinated, just below the national average. However, the picture varies greatly from country to country. Three of Arizona’s 15 counties vaccinated more than 40 percent of residents, but six vaccinated less than 30 percent as of Monday.
Dr. Cara Christ, the director of the Arizona Department of Health, told reporters last month that the initial rush for vaccines had slowed significantly. “In the past, vaccine appointments were made almost immediately as soon as they were available,” she said. “Now the time has come that it is possible to make an appointment on the same day at practically every state location.”