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UA expert: Arizona now experiencing ‘high levels’ of COVID-19 transmission

COVID-19 mask generic
Posted at 6:32 PM, Aug 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-02 21:32:50-04

A public health expert with the University of Arizona says Arizona is now experiencing high levels of transmission that will be sustained for "weeks to come."

Dr. Joe Gerald, who is back to releasing weekly COVID-19 reports, says another wave of cases and hospitalizations are due to the delta variant as it now accounts for more than 75% of all cases.

In his report, Gerald writes in part:

“As of July 25th, new cases were being diagnosed at a rate of 141 cases per 100,000 residents per week. The rate is increasing at 32 cases per 100,000 residents per week. Another wave of cases and hospitalizations, caused by the increasing prevalence of the Delta variant is now certain. The Delta variant now accounts for >75% of all cases.

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Vaccination remains the most important public health priority to reduce viral transmission and severe illness. With this marked acceleration in transmission, mandating masks in indoor spaces, including classrooms, and limiting large gatherings is warranted to reduce transmission in public settings.

Resumption of in-person instruction in K – 12 schools and universities in August is expected to lead to frequent school-associated outbreaks and will undoubtedly increase community transmission. With a straight face, the CDC now forecasts that cases in Arizona will decrease, stay the same, or increase over the next 4-weeks (immediately below). Thanks a lot!”

Gerald writes that hospital COVID-19 occupancy is increasing and is likely to exceed 10% of all beds in the general ward and 20% of the ICU for "many weeks."

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“Access to care remains somewhat restricted as occupancy remains unseasonably high. Once again, elective procedures are likely to be postponed,” he writes.

Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, said parents of school-aged children will have to watch closely for transmission in schools.

“I think what we can expect is it’s going to be a rough fall semester in school because there’s going to be a lot of kids that get infected, not just because of the fact that districts can’t put mask requirements on kids, but it’s just continuing to circulate in the community in large part because so many adults have chosen not to get vaccinated,” said Humble.

Gerald writes that information from the CDC shows that 55% of Arizona adults have received at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and nine percent have received one dose.