Dominant Omicron variant continues to infect Arizonans at rapid pace

The ADHS reported nearly 15,000 new cases on Friday


Petra Wessman

The U.S. daily average surpassed 806,000 cases on Jan. 14, but this number has steadily fallen nationwide in recent weeks along with deaths and hospitalizations.

Arizona set a state record for COVID-19 cases this week, as the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 14,888 new cases on Friday morning.

The previous high was 12,438, set in January 2021.

Medical experts anticipated a nationwide spike in COVID cases this month, a prediction that is coming true. Omicron has overtaken Delta as the most common coronavirus variant around the United States and in several parts of the globe. Arizona continues to be at risk for surges and COVID-related hardship, due in part to a vaccination rate that has not reached 70 percent in Maricopa, the state’s most populous county.

Phoenix mayor Kate Gallego confirmed Friday that she tested positive for the virus.

“I am following the CDC instructions,” Gallego said in quotes carried by ABC 15. “I remain in close electronic contact with my staff to ensure my work on behalf of the people of Phoenix continues without interruption.”

The CDC continues to tweak its COVID-19 guidelines as the pandemic marches toward its grim two-year anniversary. The latest update calls for a reduced isolation period for infected people, from the once-recommended 10 days down to five.

Public health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, slammed the fresh guidance, which does not require COVID-positive individuals to test negative first — or even show a cessation of symptoms — before ending an isolation period.

With frustration and fatigue mounting around the United States, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has come under scrutiny for the messaging shift, as well as for record child hospitalizations owing to COVID-19.

According to the American Medical Association, the CDC’s new recommendations “are not only confusing, but are risking further spread of the virus.”