Arizona health officials promote low-key New Year’s celebrations
PHOENIX – Arizona health officials want you to ring in the new year quietly at home to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
“We know a lot of people like to get together and celebrate,” Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona Department of Health Services director, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday. “We highly recommend celebrating only with those that are in your immediate household.”
The message is nothing new, echoing pleas made before Thanksgiving and Christmas while COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths surged across the state.
But it’s worth repeating, with record numbers of coronavirus patients filling Arizona’s hospitals.
“Don’t invite people who don’t live with you over, and if you do or you do go somewhere to celebrate New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, make sure that you’re wearing a mask, physically distancing whenever you’re around people that don’t live in your household, and just stay home if you’re sick,” Christ said.
Health experts have identified small gatherings as a key contributor to the ongoing wave, because people tend to let their guards down around friends and family from outside their immediate circle.
The Arizona Department of Health Services website has a page on how to safely celebrate the winter holidays.
As experts have recommended throughout the pandemic, the advice includes wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands frequently and staying home when sick.
If you do attend or host a gathering, remember that COVID-19 is more likely to spread indoors, when there are more people and when the festivities last longer.
The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 hospital inpatients climbed to a record 4,475 on Monday, with a record 1,053 COVID patients sick enough to require an ICU bed.
COVID-19 patients took up 53% of all inpatient beds and 59% of all ICU beds on Monday, both the highest levels recorded during the pandemic.
The rising tide of COVID-19 patients is leaving less and less space for other patients in Arizona’s hospitals. Only 38% of all inpatients were non-COVID on Monday, the lowest rate of the pandemic. For ICU beds, 32% were non-COVID, the second-lowest rate recorded.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.