COVID-19 makes a summer comeback as cases rise significantly

Published: May. 30, 2022 at 7:01 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s almost June which means there will be an increase in COVID-19 cases. It’s been that was since the beginning, and this year is no exception.

Depending on whose numbers are used, the number of cases is either three times or six times higher than they were last Memorial Day weekend. It’s difficult to know since so many people are using home testing and don’t always report the results of their tests, especially if it’s negative.

So what ever the numbers, it’s likely an undercount.

“We do know that June has not been a kind month to Arizona when we look at it from a COVID perspective,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, the Pima County Health Director. “I would encourage our community members to be aware that I believe we are seeing accelerated transmission.”

The Pima County weekly cases hovered below 100 cases per 100,000 people for April but now is nearing double that amount. The county would like to get to about 10 cases per 100 thousand residents, but it’s going in the wrong direction.

The number of cases in April dropped to about 200 weekly after a big surge over the winter but are now more that 1,600 new cases a week. But again, that’s likely a conservative number.

And it has health experts worried.

“There is ample reason to be concerned,” said UofA’s Health Director Dr. Joe Gerald. “In a perfect world, we would be reinstituting those health measures known to slow viral transmissions.”

Those measures would be masking and social distancing as well as vaccinations and booster shots.

“We are in a state of accelerated transmission right now,” Dr. Cullen said. “I would recommend people who are eligible for a second booster seek that booster at the current time.”

Those who are eligible are over 50 and those who may have a compromised immune system or other health issues.

Even though county health officials cannot require masking now, they can suggest it’s the right thing to do.

“We would encourage people to mask inside if they are in social situations with people that are not part of their own household,” Dr. Cullen said.

If transmission were to continue on the current pace, we could reach our prior Summer 2020 peak by June 17 and our Winter 2020 peak by July 24, said Dr. Gerald

“I’m still relatively optimistic that we won’t go much higher (if at all) than the Summer 2020 peak but I can’t say that with any certainty,” he said

One possible reason for the June spike is the immunity and vaccinations people received during the big wave in the Winter begin to wane making people susceptible to the virus again. Which is why some people who have been vaccinated, may have had repeat cases.

“It may be that every four to six months we need boosters,” Dr. Cullen said. “But right now I would encourage people to protect themselves.”

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