This week saw a meaningful decline in Covid-19 cases which now clearly represents a real decrease in viral transmission
. This decline is accompanied by reductions in hospital and ICU occupancy. Reductions in mortality should follow. While this reprieve is welcomed, the absolute level of SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission remains exceptionally high.

As of January 24th, new cases were being diagnosed at a rate of 557 cases per 100,000 residents per week. This rate was declining by 150 cases per 100,000 residents per week. Despite this improvement, no other state is experiencing faster transmission than Arizona according to the CDC. Because of this, Arizona has moved up 2 positions to the 6th hardest hit state since the outbreak began.

Arizona is reporting >800 Covid-19 deaths per week (>115 per day) and this count may underestimate true fatalities by half (see WoolfWoolf, or Weinberger). Many of these deaths were preventable if the state had more aggressively adopted evidenced-based public health practices. Arizona’s weekly tally of deaths now ranks second in the nation. Overall, we rank 10th.

The Arizona Public Health Association released a report on all-cause mortality during the Covid-19 pandemic. The main finding is that all-cause mortality was 23% higher in 2020 than 2019 with the months of July and December being outliers with 64% and 61% higher mortality, respectively. This translates into approximately 15,000 excess deaths.

The Arizona Public Health Association also released a report that describes the chronological course of the Covid-19 outbreak in Arizona and chronicles the state’s response or lack thereof. 

Hospital Covid-19 occupancy is declining in the ward and ICU. However, access to care for Covid-19 and non-Covid patients remains restricted in ways that are difficult to understand owing to changes in care practices.

Hospitals continue to postpone many scheduled procedures to create additional capacity for Covid-19 patients at the expense of others with serious medical conditions.

Health professionals are being asked to work additional hours and assume duties outside their traditional scope of practice.

The test positivity rate for traditional nasopharyngeal PCR testing declined for the third straight week, dropping from a peak of 35% to 29% this past week. Nevertheless, our testing capacity is wholly inadequate to the scale of the problem and other regions.

So far, 1110 per 100,000 (1.1%) Arizona residents have received at least 2-doses of vaccine while 6044 per 100,000 (6.0%) have received at least 1-dose. Arizona vaccination roll-out places us in the bottom half of US states. To date, Arizona has administered only about one-half of its delivered doses

Here is the full weekly report, which includes all of the informative graphs.