COVID-19 in Arizona: ADHS posts first weekly update

There is continued optimism that the pandemic is now entering an endemic stage


Mark Morgan

Masking and distancing requirements are loosening further as the CDC updates its COVID-19 safety guidelines.

As announced last month, the Arizona Department of Health Services on Wednesday published the first of its planned weekly COVID-19 case updates.

The ADHS reported 9,647 new cases in its Wednesday data dashboard, and the agency also added 449 deaths to Arizona’s total. The fatality total owing to coronavirus in the state has exceeded 27,000 since the pandemic began nearly two years ago. Finally, a shade under 70 percent of Arizonans has received at least one vaccine dose.

New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines released last Friday say it is now safe for residents of four Arizona counties, including Maricopa, to no longer wear a mask in public indoor spaces. But the death rate from COVID-19 in Arizona remains among the highest in the United States. Thousands of cases continue to be detected and confirmed each day as the ADHS begins its transition to less-frequent reporting. 

That said, there is belief that the worst of the pandemic is in the rearview mirror.

“That omicron spike was just off the charts,” Arizona Public Health Association director Will Humble told KTAR on Monday. “And what that reflected is the virus was infecting all the people that wouldn’t get vaccinated, and now they’ve got both T cells and antibodies in place.”

According to Humble, the omicron variant’s emergence has gone a long way toward providing immunity to people who did not already have it. Primarily, this means unvaccinated Arizonans. 

Wider immunity equates with the probability that COVID-19 will become endemic in the near future, as many cases to come will result in comparatively-mild illness. But deaths in Arizona and around the U.S. due to COVID complications are not close to ceasing as the country edges closer to one million virus-related deaths.

“Of course, there will still be bad outcomes and there’s still plenty of people in the hospital right now with either delta or omicron infections who aren’t going to make it. So there’s going be a lot of deaths yet,” Humble said.