COVID-19 cases high among young adults in Arizona

By Vaughan Jones
Published: Sunday, December 26, 2021 - 6:43pm

The COVID-19 omicron variant became the dominant variant in Arizona last week, and case totals have been spiking for several weeks around the state.

The state’s health department added a total of 7,300 new confirmed COVID-19 cases over the course of Friday and Saturday.

Officials also added 140 COVID-19-related deaths in that timespan. There were 2,440 patients hospitalized due to the virus as of Thursday.

Arizona Public Health Association Director Will Humble says numbers are high among young adults.

“Folks in their 20s and 30s are the types that end up going to lots of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, especially this time of year, and they’re also the group that’s less likely to have symptoms, so they have more asymptomatic spread,” said Humble.

Humble says studies from South Africa, England and Scotland have shown that the omicron variant of COVID-19, though more transmissible than the previously dominant delta variant, is less severe.

“The South African study, it was the omicron strain, variant was 70% less likely for people to need hospitalization, that means supplemental oxygen, intubation, things like that, compared to the delta variant,” said Humble.

Humble says the results are not fully conclusive, because comparing the omicron variant to delta variant means factoring in the lower immunity rates when delta variant cases began to spread.

Officials with Arizona’s largest hospital systems have voiced fears that staff will have to ration care at some point, especially with the more transmissible omicron variant becoming the dominant variant in the United States.

Nearly 57% of eligible Arizonans are fully vaccinated, placing them 28th in the country in that metric, and lagging behind the national average by about five percentage points.

Last year, Arizona added more than 11,000 combined cases on Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Arizona Coronavirus Cases, Deaths

Coronavirus Science Health + Medicine Vaccines