Data from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health is showing the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations is growing at a slower rate since the end of March than in the weeks prior.
According to a release, this is likely attributed to the protective measures individuals and the community are taking to slow the spread of disease.
“When we look at the hospitalization epidemiology curve, we can see that the number of new severe COVID-19 cases is not growing as rapidly as it was several weeks ago,” stated Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director for disease control at Maricopa County Department of Public Health. “This tells us that, while the number of severe cases is still increasing, we have started to flatten the curve in Maricopa County.
“This is important because, while this will not stop disease from occurring, it will spread it out more evenly over time so we have enough healthcare resources to give people the best healthcare when they need it."
An epidemiology or “epi” curve is a public health tool used frequently in outbreaks that visualizes how many cases occur over time. It tells if the number of cases is growing rapidly and when the peak has been reached, according to the release.
In the COVID-19 outbreak, slowing the spread of disease is important to keep the number of cases at any one time within the limits of what the local healthcare system is able to manage, officials state. A hospitalization epi curve looks specifically at those who are hospitalized, showing the trends of the most severe cases and allowing epidemiologists — public health experts who assess health data at the community level — to estimate how many are impacted with less-severe symptoms in the community even, when there is not enough testing available.
“The epi curve is a really good tool for telling us what is happening in our community as close to real time as we can get," Dr. Sunenshine stated. "It does not give us information the same day it happens or predict what will happen in the future. The best way to control the number of cases is if we all do our part to continue social distancing.”
Social distancing is avoiding those outside of your household as much as possible and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between others when you are out in public. A few examples of acceptable activities while practicing social distancing include:
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