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COVID by the numbers: Do today’s case numbers signal an upswing?

Coronavirus In Arizona
Posted at 5:09 PM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 21:48:57-05

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 1,835 COVID-19 cases Thursday. This comes off the heels of three consecutive days with case reports under 1,000. It is the highest number of cases reported since March 5 and the seventh highest in the past month. So should we be worried? Do today’s case numbers signal a possible upswing in cases that could spell a fourth wave in the state?

The simple answer is no, at least not yet.

When state health officials report new COVID-19 cases to the public, they are giving us the new data that comes into them from laboratories, hospitals, and county health departments. Most new cases they report are from the past four or five days.

There are times when “new” cases come in that are much older, which is mainly due to laboratories shifting from manual to electronic reporting. Such has been the case this week.

More than half of today’s reported case numbers, 967, occurred more than 12 weeks ago. In fact, of the 9,357 COVID-19 cases that have been reported since last week, 3,843 are from January 31 or older.

Case changes from March 4 to March 1

Case changes from March 10 to March 11

Most national COVID-19 tracking sites, such as John Hopkins University, will show Arizona hitting a floor in COVID-19 cases. This is because they rely on the reported numbers from the Arizona Department of Health Services. In reality, Arizona’s COVID-19 cases are continuing to drop. The state has seen a 20% decline in cases from last week to the week before. The state’s positivity rate for new people tested for COVID-19 is nearing 5% on a weekly basis.

Arizona is not completely out of the woods yet. State health officials report that only a little over 10% of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Doctor Joshua Labaer, director of the ASU Biodesign Institute projects that the state will achieve or be close to the all-important “herd immunity” threshold of 70-80% by mid-July.

The state continues to ramp up vaccination efforts. Maricopa County recently released the list of “essential workers” of people that are under the current age threshold of 55 that would still be qualified to receive a vaccine.