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Additional Information on US States with increasing COVID-19: Arizona

2020-06-09

Coronavirus studies by Engin Akyurt via pixabay.com

Arizona’s Department of Health (DHS) has a graphic showing daily new cases confirmed: it shows a peak of 1,168 cases reported on June 2.  Data for June 3-5 is also shown, with 930, 797, and 659 cases reported.  The graphic shows cases steadily increasing since the first day over 10: 14 cases on March 12.  According to local web site KTAR on June 7, 1,438 new cases were added on June 6.   It is quite clear that Arizona has a steadily increasing problem.  According to a post on KTAR today, “The Arizona health department reported 618 new coronavirus cases and 23 additional deaths Tuesday morning.”

If you take the Arizona data over the last few days at face value, the peak may have been reached on June 6, which is close to how health department officials have predicted.  There has also been a surge in hospital cases and the health department has asked hospitals to activate emergency plans, including increasing bed capacity.   Antibody tests have shown 3.1% positive for past infections.  Antigen tests have shown increasing positive rates– now at 7.6%– suggesting that not enough tests are being done yet.  Local officials are attributing the surge to the re-opening of the state on May 25.

The former head of Arizona’s health department said last night that a new stay-at-home order could be needed, per this KTAR report.  Such an order could be extremely unpalatable in the middle of the summer but seems logically inevitable given that the prior order did not stop increasing levels of cases.  The alternative would be overwhelmed hospitals and problems taking care of the sickest patients with acute COVID-19.  In a highly rural state, the impact would be heaviest on urban centers of Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff.

In addition, the aboriginal (Native American) Navajo population of Arizona is already hard hit and has little hospital capacity.  Much of the reservation has poor housing, with severe crowding and lack of running water.  Social distancing is impossible in most Navajo homes.  This situation applies over the entire United States on reservations.

As the pandemic eases in the Northeast, it has begun to “trickle down” to rural areas, which are poorly situated to handle its effects.  There is very weak hospital coverage in rural areas, in part because many rural hospitals have gone bankrupt and closed.  In poorer parts, housing is very overcrowded; this applies to both reservations and to towns in which meat-packing plants are located– both areas that have been especially hard-hit.

 

 

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