Arizona's COVID-19 outbreak continues to show signs of improvement
The Arizona Department of Health Services has stopped reporting some information on COVID-19 hospitalizations. But the data that is still available suggests Arizona’s outbreak is continuing to improve.
With the end of Arizona’s emergency order last month, hospitals were no longer required to share as much COVID-19 data with the state. The health department is now providing only limited information about overall bed capacity in Arizona's hospitals.
But Ann-Marie Alameddin, president of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, said the state's hospitals are still in close communication with each other.
“I think it’s important from hospitals’ perspective that we are going to be continuing to track that in terms of capacity and bed availability and to make sure that patients are getting the care that they need," Alameddin said.
And for now, the situation looks stable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to collect COVID-19 hospital data. And the CDC's data shows dramatic improvement in Arizona’s hospitals. The agency reports less than 2% of ICU beds in Maricopa County are now occupied by COVID-19 patients — down from around 40% in January.
COVID-19 cases are trending upward in some parts of the country as the highly contagious omicron BA.2 sub-variant spreads. Dr. Shad Marvasti, director of public health and prevention with the University of Arizona College of Medicine, told KJZZ’s “The Show,” he thinks cases are likely to start climbing again in Arizona, too. But he said he thinks fewer Arizonans will end up hospitalized than this time around than during the state's the winter omicron wave.
“I would say, at this point, I'm cautiously optimistic that it would be less severe than the original omicron, both in terms of hospitalizations as well as the overall number of folks, because of the immunity we have from vaccines, boosters and exposure,” Marvasti said. “With previous surges, we didn’t have quite so many folks exposed to have some level of natural immunity.”
For now, Arizona is averaging fewer than 400 new cases per day, according to the state health department. That's the lowest average since last summer. Test positivity rates also remain low, around 3%.