Opinion

Herrington: Week-to-week increases in cases a reminder that COVID-19 remains with us

Posted 5/19/22

Like many of you, public health professionals are closely watching trends reflected on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard...

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Opinion

Herrington: Week-to-week increases in cases a reminder that COVID-19 remains with us

Posted

Like many of you, public health professionals are closely watching trends reflected on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard, including week-to-week increases in cases since early April.

The 7,200-plus cases reported for the week beginning May 8 represent a small fraction of the 150,000-plus cases reported during the week of Jan. 9, when the omicron variant was surging.

Similar to what’s being seen in other states, most notably those in the Northeast, Arizona’s incremental increase so far hasn’t been accompanied by strain on our health care system.

This could result from a combination of factors, including having 71% of Arizonans vaccinated, having 43% of adults boosted, and having so many people infected during the winter surge.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the COVID-19 community level in each Arizona county remains low at this time. The CDC bases this level on the percentage of hospital beds being used by COVID-19 patients, the rate of COVID-19 hospital admissions, and the rate of new COVID-19 cases in an area.

While far from a surge, the recent upward trend in cases is a reminder that COVID-19 remains with us and that there are simple steps each of us can take to reduce the risk.

Get vaccinated

With millions vaccinated in Arizona, COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and highly effective at preventing severe illness and death. We list hundreds of convenient vaccine providers at azhealth.gov/FindVaccine.

Get boosted

Everyone ages 12 and older is recommended for a booster dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine at least four months after their initial series, and the CDC is expected to add ages 5-11 to that list as early as Thursday, May 19.

Everyone 50 and older, along with those 12 and older who have weakened immune systems, are encouraged to get a second booster at least four months after their first booster.

Remember the basics

While under the CDC’s community levels there’s no current recommendation of masks for people who are otherwise healthy, those with symptoms or exposure should mask, and those who are positive for COVID-19 should mask and stay home. In other situations, we recommend taking your own health into account when deciding whether to wear a mask or maintain physical distance.

These considerations include whether you will be in a crowd and whether those around you are vaccinated. A properly worn N95 or KN95 mask offers the highest level of protection regardless of whether those around you are masked, though any properly worn mask offers some level of protection.

Stay home, get tested

Please stay home and get tested if you feel ill. If you are positive for COVID-19, stay home and follow isolation guidance. Under the Test to Treat initiative, a growing number of locations offer testing and, if someone is positive, treatments appropriate for them — all at one location.

You’ll find a map showing Test to Treat sites and other treatment providers at azhealth.gov/FindTreatment.

After more than two years, COVID-19 continues to be predictably unpredictable. However, a great deal has changed in how we can protect ourselves through vaccination, boosters, mitigation, and treatment.

Please look out for yourself, your family, and your community by taking advantage of the protection that’s available.

Editor’s note: Don Herrington is interim director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. Visit azdhs.gov.

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