COVID-19 cases on the rise in Pima County

Increase is “slight”

COVID-19 cases on the rise in Pima County
(Source: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Following ten weeks of declining coronavirus cases, Pima County has seen a slight uptick for the past ten days.

“Five weeks ago we had 427 cases,” said Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. “Four weeks ago, 355, three weeks ago 305, two weeks ago 327 and this week 419.”

While the increases are slight, they are predictable as more people are out and about because many of the mitigation strategies have been lifted and because there are several variants which have been identified in Pima County including the highly transmissible U-K variant.

“I think the majority of it, I would estimate 75%, is the normalization of our business and social behavior,” said Dr. Joe Gerald, the Director of Public Health at the University of Arizona. “The other 25% because of the variants that are now predominate in Arizona.”

Of the uptick, Dr. Gerald said “at this time I would be concerned but not alarmed.”

But he also says the more the public adheres to the mitigation strategies the “more likelihood there is of suppressing cases even further in Arizona and have zero as an actual and reasonable target.”

But the longer it takes to get to zero or to herd immunity where 75% to 80% of the population is vaccinated, the more likely there will be a variant which can easily spread, may not be susceptible to the vaccine or people may not have immunity.

Part of the problem is that mask wearers may not follow the rules but only because they’ve become too relaxed.

Most people wear a mask in public for fear of getting the virus from a stranger not realizing they biggest danger they face is at home.

80% wear a mask in public but don’t around the house or take it off at work believing they are safe.

“That’s probably an incorrect approach,” Dr. Gerald said. “We can’t know, our family members post almost the similar amount of risk as a stranger.”

Unless a family is fully vaccinated or tested periodically, it would not be out of the realm of possibility they can pick up the virus and bring it home without showing symptoms.

“We just don’t know whose infected and anybody can get infected,” he said.

But there is one way to insure against the unsure.

“If you really are concerned and you want to do something,”Dr Gerald said. “Get vaccinated.”

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