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County health official concerned over rise in COVID-19 cases in Arizona

Coronavirus COVID-19 testing in Arizona
Posted at 5:34 PM, Oct 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-26 21:45:40-04

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Public Health's Executive Director is expressing concern over the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the state.

On Monday, Maricopa County Public Health Executive Director Marcy Flanagan told ABC15 she's keeping a close eye on the numbers and which way they track in the coming weeks.

"That's really what we're seeing, we're seeing a rise in cases," she said. "[It] is a concern."

Flanagan said the upward trajectory is more gradual than the surge we saw over the Summer, noting Arizona's COVID-19 conditions aren't as bad as that Summer spike - yet.

"If we continue this rise in the next couple of weeks, we may get to a point where we're asking the state or the governor to really consider, what else can we do, what more can we do?" Flanagan said.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 801 new cases Monday. According to ABC15's Data Guru Garrett Archer, the seven-day average number of cases now exceeds 1,000 which marks the first time since mid-August.

"We have heard our hospital partners say they are feeling the increase in their hospitalizations," Flanagan said. "But...we're not where we were in the middle of July, end of June, and we don't want to get there again."

Flanagan told ABC15 there are a number of factors involved in the uptick in cases, noting universities and schools reopened, more people are heading back to work, fall break and social gatherings as well as, simply, pandemic fatigue.

She also mentioned some people might be avoiding seeking out a test, despite options that are free.

"If it's not financial, other times we've heard...individuals don't want to know they're positive because they don't want to have to be isolated," she said. "People are kind of getting that COVID fatigue."

Flanagan urged people to do their part to slow the spread, such as adhering to masks and social distancing, as she hopes cases level off and there is not a big surge.

"None of us want to get back to a place where we have to shut down restaurants, shut down all of the things that have been able to open," she said. "That will be a decision that comes out of the Governor's office if that does happen, but we're not there. We have quite a ways before we get there so now is the time for everyone to hear the message that cases are increasing."