This State Could Reach COVID-19 "Crisis Point"
The number of COVID-19 cases could reach a "crisis point" in Arizona as soon as the end of this month, a public health expert said Monday. "I don't see us reaching any particular crisis point before Thanksgiving," said Dr. Joe Gerald, an associate professor with the University of Arizona's Zuckerman College of Public Health, in the Arizona Daily Star. "But once we hit Thanksgiving and move towards Christmas and New Year's, I think we will eventually reach a crisis point."
According to the state public health department, the total number of new cases increased by 32% over the previous week in Pima County, Arizona's second most-populous county, which contains the city of Tucson. Read on to see how much danger the state is in, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Small gatherings driving spread as holiday season approaches
Community spread has been a serious issue since the beginning of the pandemic, causing experts to recommend the closure of restaurants and bars and restrictions on large gatherings like concerts and sporting events, and many schools to move to remote learning instead of in-person classes.
But over the last month, experts have noted that small gatherings, like family events, have begun to drive the spread.
That seems to be the case in Arizona as well, said Dr. Francisco Garcia, chief medical officer of Pima County. "It's interesting, because even as the school starts to open up, what we're seeing in the school is not really school spread," he said. "It seems like kids in the classrooms are relatively safe and relatively well. The cases that are identified and associated with schools are not acquired at the schools."
Coronavirus spread in small gatherings and among families has caused public health officials nationwide to urge Americans to rethink their Thanksgiving and holiday plans, and to consider skipping an in-person gathering this year to protect the health of older and more vulnerable people.
'The new normal'?
As in many states, the death rate from coronavirus is down in Arizona, as doctors have learned more about how to treat the illness—although there still is no cure. Hospitalizations in the state are rising, but they haven't reached the peak levels of last July.
"I'm starting to get to the point where I think we're going to be seesawing this way for a while until we reach a level of community immunity through vaccination," said Garcia. "I'm starting to wonder if this is what the new normal will look like over the next few months."
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.