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Concern growing over rising COVID-19 cases in Arizona

Coronavirus testing in Arizona
Posted at 3:57 PM, Nov 19, 2020

PHOENIX — New daily coronavirus cases have more than tripled in Maricopa County over the past month, according to a county health official.

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Over the past month, the seven-day average of cases has risen from fewer than 500 cases per day to more than 1,500 cases currently, said Marcy Flanagan, executive director for Maricopa County Public Health.

"This increase is concerning," Flanagan said.

Flanagan noted this weekend nearly 800 youth sports teams are coming to Maricopa County for competition, and encouraged people attending the events to wear masks, even if outside. That includes parents who are on the sideline in support of their kids. She said they have identified several outbreaks associated with club sports.

"Having these events that aren't socially distanced and not wearing masks is how we end up with increases [that] we're seeing," she said.

Flanagan said they talk with hospital administrators on a weekly basis, and they have heard concerns about potential staffing shortages if cases continue at the current rate.

"The numbers we're seeing and the trajectory we're seeing, when our hospital systems become overwhelmed, we will have to do additional efforts statewide to help those systems relieve the pressure," Flanagan said. "We certainly can't continue to have [an] increase in numbers and get to a point where our hospital systems cannot see patients."

In a new COIVD-19 report, compiled by University of Arizona Associate Professor Dr. Joe Gerald, he writes: "Viral transmission in Arizona continues to increase. If not quickly addressed, new Covid-19 cases will overwhelm our capacity to provide optimal hospital care within a matter of weeks."