PHOENIX — In recent weeks, it seems as if Arizona is posting record COVID-19 case numbers almost daily. This isn’t far from the truth.
This past Saturday, state health officials reported 27,681 new COVID-19 cases. The most of the pandemic.
Omicron has all but wiped out the delta variant. According to the laboratory T-GEN, omicron accounted for 98% of COVID-19 genome sequences for the week of Jan. 9-15, the most recent week with data. The variant’s documented increased transmissibility is reflected in the state’s case numbers since late December.
Along with Jan. 22, all five of the days with the highest number of reported cases occurred in the past 10 days. Cases reported in this time frame now account for 11.5% of the sum total of COVID-19 cases in Arizona.
So far, numbers reported in Jan. 2022 make up 19 of the 20 highest COVID-19 daily cases.
Only one day from last winter’s surge, driven by the UK variant, now referred to as alpha, is in the top 20 of daily reported cases.
Jan. 3, 2021 saw 17,234 cases reported, now the 12th highest day of the pandemic. A similar 10-day time window around that day added approximately 100,000 cases, about half that of omicron.
The most important part of tracking cases is how they relate to metrics that measure COVID-19 severity, such as hospitalizations and deaths.
Last winter’s surge saw hospitalizations peak eight days after the Jan. 3 peak, followed by a peak of deaths on Jan. 18.
As of Monday, neither hospitalizations nor deaths are near their peak.
COVID-19 inpatient bed occupancy would have to increase 50% in eight days to close in on the peak, which is unlikely given that the occupancy increase from Jan. 3, 2021 to the hospitalization peak eight days later was 9%.