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Maricopa County's COVID-19 Hospitalization Rate Beginning To Slow

By Rocio Hernandez
Published: Wednesday, April 8, 2020 - 4:58pm
Updated: Friday, April 10, 2020 - 3:13pm

Social distancing measures are helping to slow the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maricopa County, said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, the county’s medical director for disease control.

She shared data from a hospitalization epidemiology curve with reporters in a Wednesday press conference. 

Sunenshine said this kind of curve is one way to follow trends when there isn’t enough testing available. The curve’s slope shows a slight decline in early April.

'What we are doing with social distancing seems to be working because we are already starting to see that slope flatten out," she said. "The goal of flattening the curve is to delay the peak of cases so we don't overwhelm our health care system."

Sunenshine couldn’t say when it’ll be safe to relax social distancing measures. She said pulling them back too fast or too abruptly could result in a second peak of cases.

Maricopa County

Sunenshine said the availability of commercial testing has made it possible to test more people for coronavirus, but what's limiting testing now is the supply chain for materials needed to collect specimens for testing and the shortage of personal protective equipment that health care providers need to safely collect those specimen. 

The county expects to release more data on its COVID-19 patients such as a geographic representation of where cases are by early next week.

Cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit are releasing demographic data on COVID-19 cases including race and ethnicity. Already that data is finding that African Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than other racial groups.

Sunenshine said the county doesn't have a good way to collect data on coronavirus patients' race and ethnicity. The one reliable place where it can get this kind of data is from death certificates. Sunenshine said the county should be to have a breakdown of that information in the near future. 

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