Concerns grow among health care experts as COVID-19 cases increase in Arizona

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Ivana Venema-Nunez, Reporter

Last week, the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) reported on June 2,  1,127 new cases in one day, the highest total at the time — until three days later, a new record was set last Friday, when 1,654 new cases were reported, according to an AZ Central article.

This all happened after Gov. Doug Ducey stated on June 4, “This was our expectation,” and “Arizona is prepared”, nearly three weeks after he allowed the stay-at-home order to expire.

Ducey stated during Thursday’s news briefing that even though positive COVID-19 cases have been increasing, Arizona’s hospitals are fully prepared to handle more patients.

The increase of new cases in Arizona has caused many to wonder whether the state had done enough to flatten the curve or if new precautions should be put in place.

According to the AZ Central article, some experts warn that Arizona is experiencing a spike in community spread, pointing to increases in the number of positive cases, the percentage of positive tests out of total tests and the number of hospitalizations. 

Nonetheless, Gov. Ducey has stated that hospitals are doing fine and he called the concerns about hospitals “misinformation”.

Reported cases: 32,918 known cases in Arizona according to the article.

  • Increase in cases by 1,654 (5.3% from Thursday’s 31,264 known cases). This is a record high for daily reported cases. 
  • 17,010 in Maricopa
  • 3,628 in Pima
  • 2,841 in Yuma
  • 2,512 in Navajo
  • 1,927 in Apache
  • 1,363 in Pinal
  • 1,345 in Coconino
  • 833 in Santa Cruz
  • 584 in Mohave 
  • 367 in Yavapai
  • 217 in La Paz
  • 178 in Cochise
  • 54 in Gila 
  • 48 in Graham
  • 11 in Greenlee
  • Navajo Nation reported 6,378 and 298 confirmed deaths as of Thursday (this includes Arizona, New Mexico and Utah)
  • The Arizona Department of Corrections said 249 inmates tested positive for COVID-19 (only 2,042 inmates have been tested out of 40,689)

Dr. William Hanage, an epidemiology professor at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health stated that the sharp rise of cases and hospitalization is alarming.

“I would go so far as to say alarming,” Dr. Hanage said, “The only sort of crumb of comfort that I can find is that I think, in general, it’s sort of easier to social distance in Arizona than it is in some places.”

According to another AZ Central article, experts are saying the increase in cases can’t be solely attributed to increased testing in Arizona.  A second stay-at-home order may be necessary to flatten the curve again.

“We have seen a steady climb of COVID-19 cases in Arizona over the last two weeks,” Banner Health tweeted Monday. “This trend is concerning to us, and also correlates with a rise in cases that we are seeing in our hospital ICUs.”

Experts advise the state needs to act quickly to get the situation under control like continuing to follow public health recommendations.

Physical distancing, wearing masks and washing hands are just some of the recommendations by the CDC guidelines