PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – COVID-19 is on the rise again in Arizona. The latest figures from the State Health Office show 12,987 cases and 42 new deaths. Eight counties in Arizona currently have high levels of transmission, and Arizona is the only state in the country where every single county has moderate or high levels of transmission of COVID-19.
Hospitalizations are also up over the past month, but this year’s Thanksgiving surge isn’t quite as sharp as last year’s surge. Still, several Valley doctors expect those numbers to continue rising into next year. “I expect the peak will be over by February,” said Frank LoVecchio, Valleywise Health’s emergency physician.
Compared to the past few months, November feels different in terms of the number of COVID cases, according to LoVecchio. “The numbers are that only about seven percent of people with COVID-like illnesses come to emergency rooms in Arizona or Maricopa County,” he said. “It feels like it’s a lot more than that. It feels like it’s double or triple.”
Valleywise officials say the number of COVID cases has more than doubled from August to date, and LoVecchio says this comes on top of an increase in flu and RSV cases, which weren’t as common last year. “We burned out a bit, I was hoping this would be over,” LoVecchio said. “But it looks like it’s going to get a little bit worse over the next two months.”
Eight percent of Arizona’s COVID-19 patients currently occupy hospital beds in the ICU, according to recent Health and Human Services data. That’s one of the highest rates in the country and more than 2.5% above the national average. University of Arizona physician Shad Marvasti says the best way to combat the surge is to do what the CDC, DHS and other organizations have recommended since the pandemic began.
“Consider wearing these masks in public indoor spaces,” Marvasti said. “Not just a thin surgical or cloth mask, but either a KN-95 or an N-95. Anyone who has not yet been vaccinated should definitely get vaccinated. And if you haven’t been boosted yet, now is the time to get boosted.”
But with the pandemic approaching its third year, Marvasti isn’t confident that many Arizonans will change their habits. “Unfortunately, I don’t expect most Arizonans to take precautions,” he said. “I think people have become desensitized to it. When the numbers are high, everyone should do their part.”
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