Arizona's Outbreak Is Improving, But Still Among Country's Most Severe

Published: Wednesday, February 3, 2021 - 2:32pm
Updated: Wednesday, February 3, 2021 - 6:58pm
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Public health experts projected a surge in Arizona's COVID-19 cases following the holidays. The prediction appears to have been correct — the state's data indicates Arizona’s new cases peaked a few days after start of the the new year. Now, the state’s outbreak is beginning to show some signs of improvement. But hospitals are still dangerously full.

Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer of Banner Health, said Wednesday that the virus is straining health care resources.

“At Banner Health, our ICUs remain very busy. ICU occupancy is still 10% higher than it was during the peak of the summer surge," Bessel said. 

In early January, the state was averaging more than 9,000 new cases per day — the average is now less than half that, according to data tracked by ASU's Biodesign Institute. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Arizona's rate of new infections per capita remains among the highest in the country. As of Wednesday, Arizona was averaging about 63 new daily infections for every 100,000 residents, compared to a national average of 42 per 100,000. 

Bessel said Arizona's data is encouraging, but mitigation measures such as mask use are still critically important, especially as new strains of the disease are spreading.

"We need to remember that these variants look to be much more contagious,” she said. 

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