Former surgeon general concerned about Arizona, coronavirus this winter

Nov 2, 2020, 5:00 PM | Updated: Nov 3, 2020, 7:39 am

PHOENIX – The former U.S. Surgeon General said Monday that he and other experts are concerned about coronavirus cases in Arizona as the weather starts to cool off and people plan to gather for the holidays.

Dr. Richard Carmona said the next few months could be a challenge for Arizona and the rest of the United States as people start to gather for the holidays.

“November could be a real challenge, and it will continue into the Christmas season, into New Year’s, unless we’re very careful,” Carmona told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Gaydos & Chad Show.

“But even with being careful, I expect that the numbers will continue to go up because only 10 or 12% of the people in the United States have been infected by this virus.”

Carmona now works with a team at the University of Arizona to study to look at coronavirus trends to see how cases are trending and what mitigation measures are working.

In Arizona, as well as nationally and globally, cases have decreased, but now they’re starting to trend back up, which was expected. On Monday, state health officials reported 666 new coronavirus cases and one additional death, which was the first report since last Monday with fewer than 1,000 new cases.

“People become more exhausted with being isolated, as mental health problems increase that you just can’t take the isolation any longer because we’re social beings,” Carmona said. “People go out, the younger people who feel invincible and don’t wear the mask, and, as you know, 40% or so of these people can be carriers and asymptomatic so they continue to spread the disease.”

Carmona said Arizona could also see an added rise in cases with snowbirds traveling to the state in the coming months.

He noted that the best thing that people can do, even if they’re suffering from COVID fatigue, is to continue to use the mitigation toolbox, like practicing social distancing and wearing a mask, especially since there is not an approved vaccine yet.

“This virus didn’t exist before December of last year, so we’re learning a lot,” Carmona said.

“My guess is, is that hypothetically, if we didn’t have a vaccine, eventually we’d achieved herd immunity because people are COVID exhausted, they’ll go out, they’ll go to work. Some people will be fine, and others will suffer harm, and even death.”

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Former surgeon general concerned about Arizona, coronavirus this winter