COVID-19 metrics on rise again in Arizona

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 5:26 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Cases, hospitalizations and the spread of COVID-19 are on the rise in Arizona once again. After months of lower numbers, lack of vaccinations, stronger variants and holidays are all contributing to the growing numbers.

“We are concerned about the increase,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, Pima County Health Department Director. “The vast majority of the increase, almost all, is in unvaccinated individuals.”

Slumping vaccination rates have lent the biggest hand in an increase in COVID-19 cases. The state has reported more than 1,000 in four of the past five days alone. The positivity rate at 14 percent for the week of July 20, is similar to what the state saw in November of last year, though fewer people are getting tested. While cases and other metrics are still much lower than the height of the pandemic, the rise is concerning.

“While we’re still low, if you follow the CDC data tracker, we moved from ‘moderate’ to ‘substantial’ transmission two days ago,” said Dr. Cullen.

Transmission has increased to 50 per 100,000 people for the county to move to ‘substantial transmission,’ Dr. Cullen said in addition to low vaccination rates, the Delta variant and Independence Day could contribute to this. They’ve found just under 30 cases of the Delta variant in Pima County as of late last week.

“We have no indication that that is going to stop,” she said.

For now, though, they say there won’t be any health advisories or measures taken when it comes to closures or universal masking. The health department said the biggest deterrent for rising cases is vaccine.

The health department says less than 0.1% of new COVID-19 cases are from vaccinated people, and 15 percent of those are from the Delta variant.

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