Health officials worry about unvaccinated public as COVID-19 delta variant begins to appear in Arizona

Arizona has administered over 6.5 million COVID-19 vaccinations, with 49.8% of the population vaccinated with at least one dose, however the number of unvaccinated and under-vaccinated continues to be worrisome, according health officials Tuesday.

Yavapai County stands at 43.7% of the population vaccinated with at least one dose, according to Yavapai County Community Health Services (YCCHS).

As of Tuesday, July 6, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is reporting 18,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

DELTA VARIANT

“The delta variant (B.167.2) is now in close to 100 countries and spreading rapidly. The variant is causing large percentages of COVID-19 infections in four states currently and has increased in Arizona from 3% of genomes sampled in May to 16.8% as of June 21,” according to a YCCHS release.

Arizona’s public health experts are concerned the variant is outpacing vaccines, gaining momentum in unvaccinated people - and even people fully vaccinated - are being infected with the virus with people in high-risk populations most at risk.

About 45% of all the known delta variant cases in the state have been in people ages 20 to 44, according to ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ.

Christ said that is likely both because that age group has a lower overall vaccination rate and because they tend to be social. About 46% of 20- to 44-year-olds in Arizona have received at least one dose of vaccine, compared with about 63% of those ages 45-64 and 86% of those older than 65.

“It’s important for people to know that we do have the delta variant here in Arizona. We have identified it in all parts of the state,” Christ said. “The best form of prevention is to be vaccinated — fully vaccinated — against COVID-19.”

SYMPTONS OF VARIANT

Symptoms of the COVID-19 Delta Variant appear to be different than the initial virus. Shortness of breath and other lung issues remain the most worrisome symptoms, but upper respiratory issues – congestion, runny nose and headache seem to be more prevalent. It may seem like a very bad cold – and it is very contagious. The potential shift in symptoms is not to say that the illness should be brushed off as just a cold. Respiratory droplets emitted from coughs and sneezes can infect other, more vulnerable, people. And cases that start off mild can worsen and become more serious.

YAVAPAI COUNTY

Yavapai County reports 60 COVID-19 cases and one death since Friday, July 2, according to health officials.

The county has tested 124,178 residents for COVID-19 with 19,690 positive cases and 530 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Yavapai Regional Medical Center reported seven COVID-19 patients Tuesday, while Verde Valley Medical Center in Cottonwood reported three. The Prescott VA currently has no COVID-19 patients.

STATE

Arizona's pandemic death toll reached 18,000 on Tuesday as the state reported 21 additional deaths along with 900 more confirmed COVID-19 cases after the three-day July 4 holiday weekend.

As of Sunday, Arizona ranked 12th highest among U.S. states in total COVID-19 deaths since Jan. 21, 2020, and sixth highest in the number of deaths per 100,000 of population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Arizona's pandemic case total reached 897,910 on Tuesday.

The state's coronavirus dashboard reported that the vaccination rate — the percent of population administered at least one dose — was 49.8% as of Tuesday. Of those nearly 3.6 million people, 3,174,161 were fully vaccinated.


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