What You Need to Know-Week of June 15th

The most important weekly updates for you to keep your community healthy

In this Update:

1. Open is not Over: Arizona COVID-19 Cases Increasing

2. Pandemic Preparedness: What my household can do to prepare for COVID-19

3. Vulnerable Populations: COVID-19 by Race in Arizona

1. Open is not Over: Arizona COVID-19 Cases Increasing

Governor Ducey ended the Stay-at-Home order on May 15th. However, the reopening of Arizona businesses and the relaxed regulations for COVID-19 within the state have been followed by a substantial spike in cases. While it is not possible to definitively link the two, it is clear that more testing is not the only reason for these increases. In fact, the testing blitzes in Arizona have ceased. The Kaiser Family Foundation has collected data on the United State’s testing efforts and ranked the 50 states in their responses. Arizona ranks 43rd out of 50 for testing, with roughly 46.4 tests with results per 1000 residents. With this limited number of administered tests, the true number of cases in Arizona is likely much higher than what is reported.

The graph below shows the case counts of COVID-19 daily, since May 15. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are similarly demonstrating increases. Note that surveillance data will naturally have peaks and valleys due to reporting frequency and the nature of batching reports and laboratory testing. It should also be noted that Dr. Christ announced on Thursday (6/11/2020) that they will not consider closing down the state again. This means it is absolutely imperative for each individual and household member to adhere as closely as possible to physical distancing guidelines, wearing a mask, teleworking if at all possible, and minimizing large group activities. We are a community and now, more than ever, we must act together to protect each other. Emergency plans have already been activated statewide for the hospitals. For regularly updated case numbers please visit this link and click on “Confirmed COVID-19 Cases by day.”

A quick note on the World Health Organization (WHO) messaging about asymptomatic transmission this week. It is critical to note that people who are not showing symptoms CAN indeed transmit disease. Masking should be universal, regardless of symptoms. More on this in next week’s update. 

As the risk for COVID-19 increases within Arizona, it is especially important to take safety precautions to protect yourself and your friends and family during this time. Use the links below to find information on…

Safety precautions to continue practicing
How to find alternatives for common cleaning supplies
COVID-19 testinghttps://azcovidtxt.org/2020/05/28/updates-may-25/
Household plan for COVID-19 Checklisthttps://azcovidtxt.org/2020/06/08/updates-june-8/

2. Pandemic Preparedness: What my household can do to prepare for COVID-19

As we mentioned in the update above, COVID-19 cases in Arizona are continuing to rise. This means that it is essential to take daily precautions to reduce your likelihood of contracting and spreading COVID-19 including practicing proper hand hygiene, sanitizing and disinfecting, wearing cloth face coverings, and avoiding unnecessary outings. However, in addition to taking these everyday steps to help stop the spread, it is very important to be prepared in the event that you or someone in your household has COVID-19. Preparing in advance will not only lessen the burden and stress if there is a virus case in your home, but doing so will also reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus to individuals both inside and outside of the home. Follow these steps to ensure that you are prepared:

How to prepare for COVID-19 in advance:
– Connect over the phone, online, or at appropriate physical distance with friends or neighbors outside of the home who can assist with essential needs such as groceries, medications, and disinfecting supplies while you are quarantined (which should last 10 days after you tested positive or begun showing symptoms). Make sure to discuss how you will pay back the person who is transporting your essential items and if possible use touch-less payment such as “Venmo” or “Cash App”.

– You may begin a “phone tree” to share contact information with a network of people to let others know that you are willing to help each other in the event that they themselves, or someone in their home develops COVID-19. Contacting your neighbors to create a neighborhood plan is also a good idea. 

– Develop an emergency contact list that includes phone numbers for your family doctor, nearby emergency room, as well as insurance numbers and other important identifiers. The list should be located in an area that everyone in the home can access (e.g., the refrigerator or other neutral location).

– If possible, choose a room, along with a separate bathroom in the home where sick members of the household can be kept separate from healthy members. These areas should be regularly disinfected.

– Healthy individuals should limit cleaning in the designated “sick areas” to avoid exposure. The sick individual(s) should clean and disinfect their spaces if they are able to and if it is appropriate for them to do so (i.e. if young children are ill, they should not use chemicals).

– Make a plan for what household items and surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. High touch surfaces should be cleaned 2-3 times as frequently as other, less used areas.

– If you take daily medications, make sure to have a few weeks supply of them, if possible.

– Also have at least a few weeks supply of personal care items, including laundry detergent, toothpaste, hand soap, trash bags, dish detergent, shampoo, etc. –

– Avoid sharing personal items with sick individuals.
Make sure to have disinfecting supplies if it is available to you, such as sanitizing wipes and hand soap. 

– Have enough cloth face coverings for every member of the home. 

Covid-19 Symptoms include: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea

COVID-19 Emergency Warning Signs include: trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face. Designate someone to call 911 in the event that someone in the household is experiencing these serious symptoms.

– Identify someone outside of the home to take care of your pet in the event that members of the home become too ill to do so. Although it is rare, some animals have tested positive for COVID-19; therefore, sick individuals should limit contact with pets.

– As those over the age of 65 are a high risk group for COVID-19, avoid any contact with this population if you or others around you are feeling sick. If you are a caretaker, make sure to identify someone outside of the home that is able to take on the task (including supplying essential goods such as groceries, medications, and personal care items) in the event that members of the household become ill.

– Identify someone outside of the home to caretake for your children in the event that members of the home become too ill to do so.

– These circumstances can be confusing and stressful. It is important to have family discussions about COVID-19 and emphasize that these precautions are to keep everyone in the family safe. Visit this link to view a toolkit for parents and teachers on how to communicate to children about COVID-19 developed by researchers at the University of Arizona.

– Find a COVID-19 network of people – at least 1-2 whom you can have check on you on a daily basis if you become ill. It is absolutely critical that someone does regular check-ins with you while you are ill as COVID-19 symptoms can progress quickly. 

– Also prepare a kit for yourself that you keep near your bed including a thermometer, pulse oximeter, or other medical equipment that is recommended by a doctor (if you are at high risk for complications). 

For recommendations on what to do in the event For recommendations on what to do in the event someone in the home develops COVID-19, visit this link.

3. Vulnerable Populations: COVID-19 by Race in Arizona

Evidence suggests that racial and ethnic minority groups are more burdened by the effects of COVID-19 when compared to white individuals. Although the specific effects of COVID-19 on minority populations are still being determined, factors such as living and working conditions, access to healthcare and testing, and prior existing health conditions all contribute to the health differences and increased deaths experienced by minority individuals.

Native Americans make up roughly 5.3% of the total Arizona state population; however, they make up 14% percent of the cases and 18% of the deaths within the state. Evidence also suggests that these health disparities are even greater than reported in the graph above. In many instances, minority races are misclassified, meaning that many individuals will fall into an “unknown” category (36% of cases and 11% of deaths). These groups also face disproportionate access to healthcare and testing services, which means the case and death counts are likely much higher than what is shown below.

Ways to help: 

For more information about what can be done to reduce COVID-19 health disparities, visit this link.

The next update will cover daily COVID-19 precautions. If you would like to learn more about this and other topics related to COVID-19 in Arizona, please complete next week’s AZCOVIDTXT survey that you will receive via text in about a week.

View Updates from Past Weeks:

Update from week of June 8th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of June 1st (English | Spanish)
Update from week of May 25th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of May 17th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of May 11th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of May 4th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of April 27th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of April 20th (English | Spanish)

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