After nearly two years, I don’t blame anyone for feeling done with the COVID-19 pandemic. The unfortunate truth, however, is the pandemic isn’t done with us.
Recent case numbers bear this out. After coming down steadily after a peak in mid-August, cases statewide have increased from 14,511 in the week of Oct. 10 to 17,299 so far reported for the week of Oct. 31. That isn’t the case in every county, but it is in Maricopa and Pima counties, the state’s largest, along with several rural counties.
It isn’t clear why this is happening, though the timing coincides with the start of cooler temperatures, fall break for schools, and the continued dominance of the highly contagious Delta variant.
What is clear is the things everyone can do about it.
If you aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19, get vaccinated. If you are fully vaccinated and are eligible for a booster, get a booster to make sure you have the fullest protection possible. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, free, and widely available around Arizona.
Where there is substantial or high COVID-19 transmission, as is currently the case in every county in Arizona, ADHS recommends that everyone, whether or not they are vaccinated:
- mask up in public indoor settings;
- continue following other proven mitigation strategies, including physical distancing of at least 6 feet and frequent handwashing or use of hand sanitizer;
- stay home if sick; and
- get tested for COVID-19 if they have symptoms or 3-5 days after exposure to someone who is positive.
Breakthrough COVID-19 cases are rare among those who are fully vaccinated. They are normally much milder, and vaccinated individuals are far less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. But your goal should be avoiding any potential breakthrough case – and the potential that you will spread COVID-19 – by following mitigation strategies like masking up and maintaining physical distance.
There’s more opportunity than ever to move Arizona toward herd immunity with ages 5 to 11 now approved for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Until we get there, practicing mitigation will help keep you, your family, and your community safer.