As incoming interim director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, it’s my privilege and solemn responsibility to succeed Dr. Cara Christ, who has so capably led Arizona’s COVID-19 response. I’m honored to be part of the team she has built — talented professionals working nonstop to promote public health amid a global pandemic.
It’s a testament to Dr. Christ’s efforts that Arizona has as many people vaccinated as we do, and that work will continue. To that end, former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona is joining our team as a special adviser to help us continue moving Arizona toward the vaccination totals that will finally check COVID-19.
That brings me to a number on today’s ADHS dashboard that has the attention of news outlets, many of you, and those of us in public health: 1 million COVID-19 cases in Arizona.
It’s a somber reminder that COVID-19 remains active in Arizona, and that people continue to be hospitalized and die, in particular those who haven’t been fully vaccinated. No vaccine can prevent disease 100% of the time, but the numbers we are seeing for hospitalizations and deaths are primarily among those who aren’t fully vaccinated, which demonstrates vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious cases of COVID-19.
One case, one hospitalization, one death is one too many when there are safe, free, and highly effective vaccines available today. They are at pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and other providers within minutes of almost every Arizonan 12 and older. You can find a location near you at azhealth.gov/FindVaccine.
As we wish Dr. Christ success in her new role promoting public health with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, we at ADHS recommit ourselves to her goal of continuing Arizona’s progress toward herd immunity against COVID-19. Together, we can make this happen.