COVID-19 transmission is still high in Arizona
COVID-19 remains widespread in Arizona. The Department of Health Services this week is reporting 74 deaths from the virus and more than 15,000 new infections. About 30% of recent COVID-19 tests reported to the state have been positive — a near-record high.
Just under 5% of Arizona’s hospital beds are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Hospitalizations haven’t climbed to the levels seen in previous waves of the pandemic, but Dr. Frank LoVecchio, an emergency room doctor with Valleywise Health told KJZZ News the healthcare system is still strained.
“I wouldn’t necessarily worry about a shortage of intensive care unit beds," LoVecchio said. "For physical beds, I think we’re looking pretty good as a state. What we’re not looking good at is keeping nurses here."
LoVecchio said as the extremely contagious omicron BA.5 sub-variant continues to spread, he expects school-related outbreaks will be more likely than not as Arizona students head back to classrooms.
“That’s probably one of the most virulent types of virus that we’ve seen in the history of mankind. It’s very, very easy to catch," LoVecchio said.
LoVecchio said vaccination still offers the strongest protection against the virus for adults and kids. Vaccines are available to all Arizonans over the age of six months, but the state's vaccination rates remain below national averages. Vaccination rates among young children in Arizona are especially low.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend mask use indoors for 10 of Arizona's 15 counties, where it classifies community transmission levels as high.