Phoenix-area health official believes winter COVID-19 peak won’t come until after Christmas

Dec 17, 2021, 8:00 PM
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)...
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

PHOENIX — Some metrics have pointed to the winter peak of COVID-19 in Arizona having already passed, but a Phoenix-area health official believes that won’t happen until after Christmas.

“My gut feeling is we’re not quite past the peak yet and we won’t see that until a couple weeks after Christmas,” Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director of disease control for Maricopa County Public Health, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad on Friday.

Sunenshine said a similar drop in cases, hospitalizations and positivity rates was observed around Thanksgiving before a rise a week after the November holiday.

The rolling seven-day average for new cases in the state was down to 3,093 on Thursday, according to tracking by The New York Times, a drop of nearly 25% from the delta wave high mark registered on Dec. 8.

The number of confirmed or suspected COVID inpatients was 2,569 on Thursday, down 114 from the previous day and the fewest since Nov. 27. The day-over-day number of COVID inpatients has declined on eight of the 10 days since the delta wave peak of 2,800 on Dec. 6.

Sunenshine said in Maricopa County, more than 2,000 cases are still being reported daily.

She added that the uncertainty of omicron could have an effect on the peak.

Maricopa County had 14 cases of omicron as of Friday, up from six on Monday.

“There’s a good chance omicron could move in very quickly and we don’t know how that is going to affect our case numbers,” Sunenshine said.

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Phoenix-area health official believes winter COVID-19 peak won’t come until after Christmas