Arizona leads world in COVID cases per capita, Yuma County especially hard hit


R. Miller (Flickr)

Yuma County is truggling with high COVID case rates and a lack of vaccine doses

Ivana Venema-Nunez, Reporter

Arizona is in the spotlight nationally, as the state is once again leading the world with the highest seven-day average of COVID-19 infections per capita.

As of Friday, known COVID-19 deaths reached 13,000 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to The Arizona Republic, there are seven possible reasons why Arizona is leading the world for the second time during the pandemic. 

  • Bars, restaurants and other common areas such as gyms remain open and no statewide policy implemented that requires masks in all public spaces. Local jurisdictions have implemented mask mandates in the past but Gov. Doug Ducey left it for local officials to decide when and where masks would be required. 
  • Minimal enforcement even when COVID-19 cases spiked to record numbers. According to an Arizona Republic analysis of police data through early December found that no one in Phoenix, Tucson or Flagstaff had been cited for disregarding local or countrywide mask mandates. Just a few businesses were cited for staying open or not following reopening guidelines.
  • The downplay of the pandemic specifically from elected officials and the denial displayed by them of the severity of the pandemic. 
  • Arizonans claiming mask mandates restrict “personal liberties” and force compliance with “unconstitutional edicts.” and combine this with pandemic fatigue where individuals want to visit their families or friends since they haven’t seen them in a while.
  • Arizona is known for being a winter travel destination.  Over the holidays, the cases of COVID-19 increased. Arizona does recommend that visitors quarantine for 14 days — a different approach than other states who have restricted who can visit and require proof of a negative test.
  • The holiday spike that some Arizona health care providers referred to as a “surge within a surge” — where case counts were already climbing when the impact of holiday gatherings hit.
  • Cross-border movement between Mexico and Arizona is suspected to be the reason why Yuma County, where agriculture is the No. 1 industry, has been hit the hardest by COVID-19. Commerce moving across the border and the fact that many people in Yuma County have family members in Mexico and may cross back and forth has impacted the area.

The current challenge is with vaccine supply, according to The Arizona Republic.   Yuma County’s waiting list includes more than 100,000 people requesting COVID-19 vaccinations.  It should benefit farm workers and food production in the area to begin immunization as quickly as possible.