What You Need to Know-Week of January 18th

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




In this Update:

1. Urgent Updates: Transmission, Hospital Capacity, & Vaccine Information

2. Information You Need: New, highly transmissible COVID-19 virus variants

3.   Quick Tip: Support local restaurants on a budget




1. Urgent Updates: Transmission, Hospital Capacity, & Vaccine Information



Transmission:

Arizona is currently deemed the COVID-19 hot spot of the world, ranking 1st in new cases per day with 129.5 cases per 100,000 Arizonans, compared to California which is reporting 107 cases per 100,000 people daily. There have been nearly 650,000 total reported cases since the pandemic began. This winter spike in transmission is much worse than the summer spike we endured in July and the COVID-19 spread within the state only continues to increase in severity. Counties with the highest number of cases per 100,000 people are Yuma, Santa Cruz, Navajo, Apache, and Graham. For regular updates in case counts and additional COVID-19 information by county, visit the Arizona Department of Health’s data dashboard summary.

There has never been a more important time to stay home and take the necessary precautions (e.g., practicing hand hygiene, physical distancing, and wearing cloth face coverings) to prevent COVID-19. Although not everyone has the ability to stay home, those who are able to can greatly help reduce the risk for essential workers and healthcare professionals.

Hospital Capacity: 

Hospitals are reaching capacity across the country and healthcare professionals are more overwhelmed than ever before. In Arizona, 55% of in-patient beds are currently occupied by COVID patients. This is one of the highest hospital capacity percentages within the US. The high percentage of COVID-19 patients in hospitals means that hospital staff have less time, resources, and healthcare professionals to devote to usual care including elective medical and surgical procedures. This percentage also does not account for available staff members or resources, which are dwindling. However, it is still important to remember that if you or someone else is experiencing a medical emergency, you should seek emergency medical care immediately. Visit this link and click on “Hospital Bed Usage & Availability” for updated information regarding hospital capacity in Arizona.

Vaccine Information:

Arizona is in the process of distributing the vaccine to priority groups in specific phases. Most counties are currently in the 1B priority phase. Each phase of the vaccine distribution plan and the phases that Arizona counties are in are outlined below:


Phase 1
County Phase


Phase 1A:
Healthcare Workers & Healthcare Support Occupations, Emergency Medical Services Workers, Long-term Care Facility Staff & ResidentsLa Paz
Phase 1B Priority:Education & Childcare Workers, Protective Services Occupations, Adults 75 and older, Remaining 1ACochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Maricopa, Mohave, Yavapai, Yuma, Pima
Phase 1B:Education & Childcare Workers, Protective Services Occupations, Adults 75 and older, Essential Services/ Critical Industry Workers, Adults with High-Risk Conditions in Congregate Settings, Remaining 1AApache, Navajo, Pinal, Santa Cruz
Phase 1C:Adults 65 and Older, Adults of Any Age with High-Risk Medical Conditions, Adults Living in Congregate Settings, Remaining 1A & 1B

Phase 2

 
Additional High-Risk/ Critical Populations, General Public, Remaining Phase 1 Populations

Phase 3
General Public, Remaining Phase 1 or 2 Populations

Non-residents (e.g., students and other people who reside in Arizona part-time) are eligible to receive the vaccine in Arizona. All Arizona residents can register to be vaccinated in their own county or in Phoenix. 

You may also sign up for an Arizona Vaccine Program secure portal account to schedule your vaccination appointment when it is your time to do so. Use Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome as your browser for best usability.



2.  Information You Need: New, highly transmissible COVID-19 virus variants

A common characteristic of viruses is their ability to mutate into different variants, or strains. We see this every year with the seasonal flu and we have seen this occur multiple times during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic as well. 

There are many newly identified variants, but one variant of particular interest was discovered back in September in the United Kingdom and has since been identified in COVID-19 patients across over 30 countries including the U.S in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The variant’s mutations have given it the capability to be 40-50% more transmissible. Despite this increase in its ease of transmission, the science that is currently available demonstrates no increased risk of severe illness or death. However, early research is suggesting that this variant may be more likely to infect and be transmitted by children and greater transmissibility means more rapid influx of people who need care in hospitals, further straining the medical system. 

There are other variants with mutations including those detected in South Africa, Japan, Brazil and Peru. Each one of these appears to be different and need further research to identify differences in transmissibility, populations impacted, and disease manifestation. It is certain that other variants will continue to be detected as the virus spreads.

Much more research is needed to understand how far across the world these variants have spread and exactly what the differences are between the variants and previous types that we have already seen (e.g., disease progression, long-term effects, etc). Scientists are also working to understand whether the variants are able to be identified via the current tests available for COVID-19, or whether the variants will respond to the treatments that have been successfully used against COVID-19. Another question is whether the distributed vaccines will be effective for the new variants. Fortunately, the current vaccines produce a broad response to multiple targets of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and scientists believe that the vaccines will be effective against the variants.

For more information regarding the variants of the virus, visit this link.


3.  Quick Tip: Support local restaurants on a budget


Do you want to support local restaurants and get restaurant-quality delicious foods while sticking to a budget? Restaurants are often happy to sell you large to-go containers of your favorite prepared condiment or meal component. Our favorites are curries, peanut sauce, salsa, pizza sauce, hoisin sauce, and even pizza dough. This way, you save money by making most of the meal at home, and then just finish it off with something special only your favorite restaurant can make. Not all restaurants will do this, and for those that do it may depend on how much they have in stock, so definitely call ahead first!




The next update will cover information about vaccine updates. 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 January 11th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of January 4th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of December 28th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of December 21st (English | Spanish)
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Update from week of October 26th (English | Spanish)
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Update from week of September 28th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of September 21th (English | Spanish)
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Update from week of May 11th (English | Spanish)
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Update from week of April 27th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of April 20th (English | Spanish)

 


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