Christ says Arizona COVID-19 cases will rise before policies make impact
PHOENIX — As record numbers of coronavirus cases continue to be reported in Arizona, state Health Director Dr. Cara Christ expects the totals to get worse before they get better despite policy changes.
“What I expect to see over the next few weeks is an increase in cases,” Christ told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Thursday, when the state reported a single-day high of 2,519 new COVID-19 cases. “We will continue to see that trend to go up because it’s going to take awhile before the steps we put into place yesterday to take effect and have an effect on leveling off.”
In response to the recent spike in coronavirus cases, Gov. Doug Ducey granted local governments the authority to make wearing face masks in public mandatory and added additional requirements for restaurants and bars during a Wednesday press conference.
“But we do know the two best prevention methods for COVID-19 are to stay physically distanced and to wear a face mask,” Christ said. “If we can get a majority of the population to do that hopefully we’ll see a leveling off of cases.”
In addition to reiterating the need for sanitation and hygienic practices encouraged in the previous guidance, the new requirements mandate the use of face masks by some employees and strengthens social distancing protocols.
Ducey added that businesses would face consequences for failing to adhere to the new requirements.
Multiple towns and cities across the state have already decided to either mandate the wearing of face masks or scheduled meetings to address the matter.
Overall hospital bed usage in Arizona was at a pandemic high of 85% on Wednesday, and the percentage of ICU beds in use reached a high point of 84%, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services’ daily report.
Christ reiterated that Arizona’s hospitals have the capacity to handle the rising number of COVID-19 patients and can add surge beds not reflected in the reported data if necessary.
“They [hospitals] have surge plans that they can stand up as needed, they are very good at shifting resources, and the Arizona surge line is helping to avoid having one hospital overcapacity, while other hospitals have capacity,” she said.
“We do have plans in place but it is something we are concerned about and are watching very closely.”