COVID-19: Will most counties remain at high transmission?

Posted at 6:05 PM, Jul 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-06 22:25:37-04

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 20,198 new COVID-19 cases and 57 deaths. Today’s weekly report included a blog post that notated many of the cases added today are a result of a lab partner moving to electronic reporting.

The data confirms what the department reported since there were over 2,500 tests added to the case totals that date back prior to the first week of May. Some cases tested positive as far back as October of 2021. Larger than expected case reports were at one time more common in Arizona last year with testing providers being frequently added to the electronic reporting system.

The actual number of reported COVID-19 cases for last week was 15,995. In line with the range of 15,000-17,000 weekly cases that have been reported for the past five weeks.

Arizona is still seeing a rise in positive rates. Embry Health, one of the state’s largest testing providers provides a public dashboard that shows the daily positivity rate at their testing sites. Throughout most of June, daily positivity rates hovered around one in three tests. The number has risen sharply in the past few days, almost one in two tests came back positive on July 5.

Both inpatient and ICU COVID-19 numbers are rising. At last report, there were 712 COVID-19 inpatient beds being utilized and 84 staffed ICU beds. Both figures represent an increase from the past few months, but even with the rise hospitalizations are well below the numbers reported in January. There are now almost 85% fewer COVID-19 patients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists nine of Arizona’s 15 counties in a state of high community transmission. All the high transmission counties are in central and northern Arizona. The CDC determines community transmission by using the daily reported COVID-19 hospital admission data from the US Department of Health and Human Services. The most recently reported data shows Maricopa County will soon fall back into a medium-level transmission when this measurement is used.

Because of the widespread availability of at-home testing, COVID-19 cases and tests are massively underreported. This is a primary reason why the CDC, as well as health analysts, are more focused on hospitalizations.