More than half of Arizona’s counties at medium or high COVID-19 community level

Jun 10, 2022, 1:30 PM
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(KTAR News Photo)
(KTAR News Photo)

PHOENIX – With COVID-19 cases on the rise, more than half of Arizona’s 15 counties are now at medium or high community levels for the virus, according to federal health officials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classified Apache and Navajo counties in the high COVID community level this week, while Maricopa, Mohave, Coconino, Gila, Pima and Cochise are at medium. Arizona’s seven other counties are in the low range.

The CDC updates the nationwide county levels every Thursday. Designations are based on the rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions, the share of staffed hospital beds occupied by COVID patients and the rate of new cases in the community.

The Arizona Department of Health Services documented more than 14,000 new cases on Wednesday, the largest batch since the state started updating its COVID-19 dashboard on weekly basis three months ago. The state stopped updating the dashboard hospitalization data at the end of March.

“COVID-19 cases have risen week-to-week since early April, though they remain far below levels seen during the winter surge fueled by the omicron variant,” Don Herrington, ADHS interim director, said in a blog post Friday.

“COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low but have been gradually increasing.”

There hasn’t been a corresponding increase in new deaths attributed to the virus during the recent rise in cases. The state reported 40 more deaths this week and hasn’t added more than 41 in an update in over a month.

However, documented diagnostic tests in Arizona are coming back positive 23% of the time, according to the latest data, the highest weekly rate since January.

“Luckily, we have tools to decrease the spread and severity for people,” Dr. Nick Staab, medical epidemiologist for Maricopa County Department of Public Health, said in a press release Friday.

Health officials recommend keeping up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, washing hands frequently and staying home when sick.

“While vaccines do not prevent 100% of infections, they do a good job at reducing the chances that you’ll get infected,” Staab said. “It’s still worth getting vaccinated because if you do end up sick after being vaccinated, your symptoms will typically be milder with a quicker recovery.”

Healthy Americans in counties deemed to have low or medium community levels are safe without masks, according to CDC guidelines, but those where the COVID level is high should keep their faces covered in indoor public spaces.

The latest national community level map indicates a 10% rise from last week in the number of counties in the medium range, and a 2.2% increase for high.

The map shows 57.5% of U.S. counties in the low range, 32.8% medium and 9.7% high.

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More than half of Arizona’s counties at medium or high COVID-19 community level