Top Arizona health official offers tips to slow virus spread during holidays
PHOENIX — Arizona’s top public health official is offering suggestions to help slow the spread of coronavirus during the upcoming holiday season.
Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, posted a video Thursday emphasizing the need for continued vigilance during the holidays as the state continues to see a spike in COVID-19 infections.
“Everyone has their own special holiday traditions and we have a menu of safe options for ways to safely celebrate,” Christ said. “Doing even one of these options will reduce your risk and doing even more of them is even better.”
Christ recommends celebrating outside — notably in a backyard or a local park — because those environments provide better ventilation.
If outside celebrations aren’t an option, Christ suggests spacing outside inside and reducing the size of gatherings.
At-risk family and friends are encouraged to celebrate the holidays virtually, according to Christ.
Christ also says it’s imperative for holiday hosts to provide masks, hand sanitizer and other precautions as possible.
Public health officials have partially attributed the rise of cases in Arizona to small household gatherings where people are comfortable with each other.
Key pandemic metrics have been rising in Arizona at a rate not seen since the first wave hit in June and July.
Cases have been surging since the beginning of October, and deaths started on the same course about three weeks later.
Arizona’s weekly percent positivity for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, an indicator of how much the virus is spreading in the community, has reached its highest level in three months.
The weekly rate was at 9% for 110,669 tests recorded from last week, the highest since it was 10% for the week starting July 26. So far this week, it’s at 10% through 22,374 tests recorded.
The weekly rate was at its highest at the end of June at 20%.
Arizona health officials had reported 266,562 COVID-19 infections and 6,240 fatalities as of Thursday morning.
“Many have grown tired of the mitigation strategies, but we can’t let up,” Christ said.