Arizona official expects COVID increases after Thanksgiving
PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona reported nearly 1,000 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday as the state health director said she expects a “significance increase” a week or two after Thanksgiving because of family gatherings and students returning home.
”With the increase that’s going on around the nation and people coming home, like from colleges, to Arizona, Thanksgiving has me highly concerned,” Dr. Cara Christ, the director of the state Department of Health Services, said on radio station KTAR.
Christ’s department reported 994 additional known COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths, increasing the state’s totals to 234,906 cases and 5,859 deaths.
Arizona in the past month has seen a gradual increases in COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations. The state was a national hot spot in June and July before the outbreak diminished as many local governments imposed masking mandates and the state re-imposed some business restrictions. Current levels of cases and hospitalizations remain far below the summer peaks.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
Arizonans should continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and stay home when sick, Christ said. “Now is not the time to stop wearing masks and resuming normal activity,” she said.
That particularly applies to younger adults who are at less risk of dying and who might relax their guard during family gatherings, Christ said.
“We’re finding that is causing increased transmission,” she said. “Even if you aren’t at high risk, you probably have somebody you love who is.”
State health officials are working with local governments in areas of reported increases in case numbers and positivity rates in testing, Christ said.
“What seems to be different ... instead of it being the general statewide increase like we saw in May and June and July, we’re seeing it in specific pockets,” she said without elaborating.
According to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Associated Press, seven-day rolling averages in Arizona for the positivity rate and for daily new cases have risen in the past two weeks.
The positivity rate rolling average rose from 6.6% on Oct. 7 to 9.2% on Thursday, while the daily new cases rolling average rose from 576 to 897.
The rolling average for daily deaths in Arizona remained at just under 12 during the same period.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.