Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations dropping nationwide
Virus expert says crisis 'depoliticized' as more people help slow COVID-19 spread
Following January, the deadliest month of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., February has been showing signs of progress as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are plummeting. At the same time, vaccinations are picking up speed.
"It appears that the mitigation measures set forth by the CDC to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are working," Yavapai County Community Health Services (YCCHS) said in a news release Thursday, Feb. 25. "Close to 28 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, possibly giving them a degree of immunity, and the CDC estimates 66 million people have received at least one dose of vaccine and over 20 million are now fully vaccinated."
Even with this progress, infectious disease experts agree it is way too early to call an end to the pandemic. And the question remains whether the nation can stay ahead of the fast-spreading mutations of the virus.
“While the recent decline in cases and hospital admissions are encouraging, they are counterbalanced by the stark reality that in January we recorded the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in any month since the pandemic began,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month about the declining numbers.
Deaths do not move in perfect lockstep up or down with the infection curve. They are a lagging indicator, because it can take a few weeks for people to get sick and die from COVID-19.
Dr. Philip Landrigan, an epidemiologist at Boston College, said vaccines are a factor in the sharp drop in cases but are not the primary cause. Instead, he said, the crisis has become increasingly “depoliticized” in recent weeks as more people come to grips with the threat and how they can help slow the spread of the virus.
“I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of this culture change. I think it’s critically important,” he said.
After a slow start, the vaccination drive that began in mid-December is picking up speed and the process is becoming more efficient.
Arizona has administered over 1.6 million doses of vaccine, with 15.8% of the state’s population vaccinated with the first dose, YCCHS reported Thursday. The county has administered more than 55,000 doses of vaccine to date, with close to 47,000 first doses or 20.2% of the county’s population, and 8,770 second doses.
In Yavapai County, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) COVID-19 data dashboard shows that for the two weeks ending Feb. 7 virus cases per 100k have decreased to 97/100k, percent positivity decreased to 9.2%, and hospitalization visits for COVID-like illnesses decreased to 5.2%.
On its website, the state health agency is reminding residents that in order to be vaccinated, you need to be a member of the current phase, schedule an appointment, and provide appropriate identification once you arrive at the vaccination site. ADHS released an online COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker at https://www.azdhs.gov.
POD & CASE COUNT UPDATE
The Points of Dispensing (POD) locations in Yavapai County are operating at full capacity, YCCHS reports. Appointments canceled last week for both Spectrum and YRMC PODs have been rebooked as listed on the YCCHS Vaccine Information page at yavapai.us/chs/Home/COVID-19/Vaccine. Most appointments this week and next are for second doses, with the possibility of appointments opening as more vaccine is delivered. Residents are encouraged to check the website for updates.
Yavapai County reported 54 new COVID-19 cases and eight confirmed deaths overnight.
Since the start of the pandemic, the county has tested 101,330 residents for COVID-19 with 17,476 positive cases, 7,606 recovered, and 457 deaths.
YRMC is caring for 29 COVID-19 patients, 20 on the West campus, and nine on the East campus. Verde Valley Medical Center in Cottonwood reports four COVID patients and the Prescott VA has no COVID patients.
LOCAL COVID-19 INFORMATION
• For Yavapai County COVID-19 vaccine information, visit https://www.yavapai.us/chs/Home/COVID-19/Vaccine.
• Yavapai Emergency Phone Bank for COVID-19 Info: 928-442-5103 – Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• For a COVID-19 test at Community Health Center of Yavapai, call 928-583-1000. For a flu shot, call 928-771-3122.
• COVID-19 information en español: https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/es/covid-19/index.php#novel-coronavirus-home.