Rural areas see spike in COVID cases, Mother’s Day could be cause

Rural counties seeing spike in COVID-19 cases

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - “Things are different in Tombstone than they are in Tucson,” said Governor Doug Ducey in a March news conference. Months later, the statement still rings true.

Cochise County reported its first death to COVID-19 Wednesday and recently saw its largest amount of cases in one day—five, thanks to a recent testing blitz.

“Because of the nature of our rural community, we have social distancing anyway,” said Amanda Baillie, with Cochise County.

The county, that is about 6,000 square miles—has the benefit of space, with no real large gathering areas. Now, with 51 cases, most are between the ages of 20 and 44.

“We’ve not seen any strain on our hospital system here in Cochise County,” said Baillie.

The county said capacity at their hospitals is not an issue, but the first death, the county said, was a patient being taken care of in Tucson. Baillie said that decision is made by the healthcare provider. Santa Cruz County said any serious cases in their county would be sent to Tucson.

However, Santa Cruz County has yet to face a very serious case, they said. Most of their 123 cases have been mild and in that 20-44 age range, with no deaths.

“The younger crowd that they may be the ones that are going out,” said Jeff Terrell, Health Services director for Santa Cruz County.

However, the county has seen an increase in cases on pace with Maricopa county during May—a stark contrast to April. Both averaging about three-to-four cases a day per 100,000 residents. Santa Cruz County has a population of less than 50,000.

“I think what could be part of it is we didn’t have a lot of tests down here,” said Terrell.

Terrell said as the testing capacity has increased in rural Arizona, the cases have “come out,” but another cause could be Mother’s Day. The county said many people live in multi-generational homes.

“Maybe a Mother’s Day spike from visiting relatives. We seem to have seen an increase in family unit cases,” said Terrell.

The county was able to determine that through contact tracing, which they are currently conducting to figure out where the spike in cases originated from. Terrell said the county has a team of five tracers.

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