What You Need to Know-Week of February 8th

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




In this Update:

1. Urgent Updates: Transmission, Hospital Capacity, Vaccine, Variants, Testing, Cloth Face Covering, & MIS-C Information

2. Valentine’s Day – Nine Ways to Celebrate During a Pandemic

3. Information You Need: Will I still need to take safety precautions after I receive a COVID vaccine?




1. Urgent Updates: Transmission, Hospital Capacity, Vaccine, Variants, Testing, Cloth Face Covering, & MIS-C Information



Updated as of: 02-08-2021
Current Transmission Status: High

Transmission:

New reported cases per day within Arizona have decreased 34% compared to two weeks ago, but transmission is still very high across the state! Currently, per every 100,000 Arizonans, 10,475 have been infected with the virus. In the past week, there has been an average of 150 COVID-19 deaths per day. For regularly updated case counts and additional COVID-19 information by county, visit the Arizona Department of Health’s data dashboard summary page.

  • Please continue to stay home and take the necessary precautions (e.g., practicing hand hygiene, physical distancing, and wearing cloth face coverings) to prevent COVID-19. 
  • Remember that while interacting with others outdoors does reduce your likelihood of a COVID-19 infection compared to being indoors, it is still necessary to wear a cloth face covering and maintain physical distancing from anyone who is outside of your household.

Current Hospital Capacity: High Concern

Hospital capacity remains a major concern for Arizona. During the past week, there were an average of 4,421 COVID-19 patients in Arizona hospitals. Currently only 12% of ICU beds, 10% of in-patient beds, and 50% of emergency department hospital beds across the state are available for any incoming admissions. Healthcare workers are incredibly overwhelmed and have less time, resources, and staff to devote to usual care including elective medical and surgical procedures. 

  • It is important to note that hospital capacity percentages only account for available beds and do 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:

Over 580,000 first doses of the vaccines have been administered across Arizona! Most counties are 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 & Residents
Phase 1B Priority:Education & Childcare Workers, Protective Services Occupations, Adults 75 and older, Remaining 1ACochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Maricopa, Mohave, Yavapai, Yuma, Pima, Pinal
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, La Paz, Navajo, 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.

Variants:

  • Brazil Variant (P.1): The first case of Brazil’s more contagious variant (P.1.) was reported in Minnesota. The case did have recent travel to Brazil.
  • UK Variant (B.1.1.7): This variant was confirmed in Arizona in travelers returning from abroad.  Evidence is suggesting that in addition to being more contagious than the original virus, the UK variant (B.1.1.7) may cause more serious disease. More research is needed on this variant.

Testing:

Accessing testing may still be very difficult. Many testing sites require an appointment or prior registration to get tested. Use this link to find a testing site near you. 

Cloth Face Coverings:

Cloth face coverings with multiple layers create a barrier for 50-70% of fine respiratory particles that are produced through breathing, talking, coughing, etc. With the news of more contagious COVID-19 variants, it is very important to have a cloth face covering that fits snug around your nose and mouth – with no gaps. Having a well-fitting cloth face covering protects those around you and by physical distancing from others, you help protect yourself. KN95 masks can be used to add a layer of protection for yourself and are available fairly widely – but be careful of knockoffs, you can find FDA approved KN95 here. N95 respirators should still be reserved for healthcare workers and must be fit-tested prior to use.  

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C):

MIS-C is a rare condition that has been linked to COVID-19 in children. Much is still unknown about MIS-C, but it can be life threatening. Since the pandemic began, there have been over 1,600 cases in the U.S. and 26 reported deaths.



2.   Valentine’s Day – Nine Ways to Celebrate During a Pandemic



For many couples, celebrating Valentine’s Day typically means going to dine out in a restaurant, or maybe head to a movie at the cinema or performance at a theater. This year, of course, these annual romantic rituals aren’t a good idea. However, it is still important to maintain traditions and make time for your significant other, so if Valentine’s Day is something you’d like to celebrate, here are some alternatives that will help keep you safe, but keep the spirit. 

Combine and adapt any of these ideas, or try something else entirely. 💕 The important part is being intentional about making time to be together, being present in the moment, and enjoying each other’s company! 💕

Thoughtful Gift

Flowers and chocolate still count, but here’s an opportunity for a thoughtful gift like a photobook, handmade love note, or write the story of how you fell in love
Fancy Dinner at Home

Instead of going out, get out the fancy dishes if you have them, wine glasses, and candles. Order or cook something special, and dress up for the event.
Picnic with the Stars

If it’s a clear night, find a good spot for stargazing, grab a blanket, and pack a picnic basket. Download an app on your phone that identifies constellations!
Movie Marathon in a Fort

Get silly! Build a couch or blanket fort together, add string lights, lots of pillows, snacks, and watch movies or concerts from your cozy couples retreat.
Learn Together

Watch a video tutorial or sign up for an online class together. Cooking, mixology, crafting, painting, dance moves and DIY – the options are almost endless!
Cooking Competition

If you love a competition, try a cook-off! Each of you starts with the same ingredients that you then use to make the best dish you can. Winner takes all?
Play a Game

Dust off a favorite board game, hook up the gaming console, or try something new like a murder mystery box. High-tech or hands-on, it’s all for fun!
Recreate Your First Date

You may not be able to actually return to the scene, but you can recreate it! Order or make the same meal, watch the same movie, or buy the same flowers…
Appreciate the Scenery

Take a walk or bike ride together, and enjoy each other’s company while appreciating the beautiful weather and unique Arizona scenery.


3.  Information You Need: After getting the COVID vaccine, will I still need to take safety precautions?


The short answer is yes, you will still need to take safety precautions (e.g., wearing a cloth face covering, staying home when possible, practicing proper hand hygiene) after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, at least until enough people have been vaccinated in our community and transmission is low. Why is that?

Vaccines take time to provide immunity.

  • Receiving a COVID vaccine does not mean instant protection from COVID-19. 
  • It takes weeks after our body encounters the vaccine for our immune systems to create these antibodies. For the currently available vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer), it will take approximately two weeks after receiving the second dose of the vaccine to provide maximum protection. This means that you can still contract COVID-19 during the time your body is creating antibodies, which is why safety precautions like mask wearing, hand washing, and physical distancing are still necessary.

The currently available vaccines are very effective! But, they are not 100% effective.

  • All vaccines currently available are successes because they have prevented illness and death from COVID-19. The current vaccines are roughly 95% effective at preventing COVID-19, which is very high! For reference, the seasonal flu vaccine is 40-60% effective. However, as good as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are, 95% is not 100%, so there is still a possibility of contracting COVID-19 even after receiving a vaccine.

Vaccines work best when the majority of people receive them.

  • The exact percentage of people that are needed to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity is not yet known, but experts suggest that this number is close to 70% of the population. What we know for sure is that the more people who are vaccinated, the less likely it is that people that will become infected with COVID-19. 
  • We have a long way to go before 70% of the population receives a vaccination, so in the meantime it is important to continue physical distancing and taking extra precautions to protect those who have not yet been vaccinated. 
  • For more information about herd immunity, visit our previous update.

There is still research to be done!

  • We know that the COVID-19 vaccines reduce symptomatic cases, save lives, and they are proven to be safe and effective, there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. Scientists are still working to understand:
    • How long immunity lasts after taking the vaccines.
    • Whether or not vaccinated individuals can still carry or spread the virus to others.

Returning to normal will require a team effort. You can do your part by:

  • Staying home (except for essential activities)
  • Physical distancing
  • Wearing a cloth face covering while out in public
  • Washing your hands
  • And now, by getting your vaccine when it becomes available to you

For more information about the safety of these vaccines, visit our previous update.




The next update will cover tips for what to do before getting your dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 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:
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