One of the important ways ADHS shares information with Arizonans is through the news media. Arizona’s newspapers, online news outlets, and television and radio stations have played a critical role in helping us keep our state’s residents informed about COVID-19. Indeed, this has been a very busy 18 months, not just for those in public health but for all the reporters, producers, editors, and others who are covering this incredibly important story. 

Given the intense public interest in the highly contagious Delta variant, which is on its way to becoming the predominant COVID-19 strain in Arizona, I’ve had the opportunity to do 13 interviews in the past 24 hours alone. The Delta variant was the main focus of the interviews, though by no means the only one. Some reporters also asked about schools returning to in-person learning and potential quarantines. 

If journalists are asking these questions, I know many Arizonans have them as well. We at ADHS want everyone to get the facts they need to stay healthy, so the interviews I do are time well-spent. 

I’d like to share some of these interviews along with the public health information shared in each: 

In the Fox10 Arizona Morning interview, Troy Hayden and I discussed Arizona’s recent increase in COVID-19 cases. Public health is  concerned about this increase and believe it’s due in large part to the Delta variant. It’s especially unfortunate because vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19, including from the Delta variant. 

On KTAR News, I talked with host Mike Broomhead about subjects including kids returning to school. Two of my three children are too young to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and that’s why they returned to public school today wearing masks. ADHS recommends the same for all unvaccinated individuals when they are around people they don’t live with. It wasn’t the most popular decision to my two kiddos, but it’s one that will protect their health and the health of those around them. 

In KJZZ’s “The Show,” host Lauren Gilger and I discussed subjects including concerns about new state laws affecting schools. There have been a lot of questions about that in recent days, and I welcomed the chance to explain that ADHS guidance remains unchanged and that quarantine remains a public health option when there are COVID-19 cases in schools. However, quarantine is used sparingly in consultation with the local public health department, and the goal of public health and schools remains to keep kids in the classroom as much as possible. 

I talked with “Good Morning Arizona” anchors Olivia Fierro and Scott Pasmore about a wide range of subjects related to COVID-19. As with my other interviews over the past 24 hours, the most important point is that safe, free, and widely available vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19. Because of that, cases and deaths are now almost entirely preventable. Approximately 90% of COVID-19 cases during July were people who weren’t fully vaccinated. And 99% of deaths are people who aren’t fully vaccinated. 

I understand why so many people are concerned about rising COVID-19 cases. I am too. That’s why a big part of my job as ADHS director is sharing how people can protect themselves, their families, and their communities. The best way to do that is finding a convenient location offering vaccination at and rolling up your sleeve today. 

The public health information I shared in these interviews reached a large number of Arizonans thanks to the news media. They are helping ADHS spread the word on how Arizonans can protect themselves and others from the COVID-19 Delta variant. Media may not consider themselves our partners in the fight against this pandemic, but they have been in many ways, and for that I am grateful.