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Health expert gives 3 reasons why Arizona’s COVID numbers are falling

(Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

PHOENIX — After spiking to record highs at the start of the year, COVID-19 cases and hospital metrics in Arizona are now at pre-Thanksgiving levels.

Will Humble, executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association, points to three major reasons for the decrease.

“Number one is that we’ve infected 20% of people and about 10% of people have a vaccine, so that’s 30% of the population who’s got antibodies right now,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Humble, who’s also the former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, believes the drop in new cases – and especially hospitalizations – also has to do with higher-risk populations getting vaccinated.

“The third thing is that the intra-family spread that happened from all the partying and everything around Christmas and New Year’s has now run its course through families,” he said.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Arizona over the last two weeks has hovered around 2,000, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services’ COVID-19 dashboard. Those numbers have not been seen since November.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients and ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients have fallen to levels not seen since mid-to-late November.

Arizona’s weekly percent positivity for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, an indicator of how much the virus is spreading in the community, has also been trending downward since the start of the year.

Humble warned that despite COVID-19 metrics improving, there are still a lot of people getting infected and dying.

“Because of how bad things were in December and January, it seems like things are really great right now,” he said. “But we’re still in the substantial spread range. The amount of virus that’s circulating in the community now is still way higher than September and October.”

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