What You Need to Know-Week of May 3rd

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




In this Update:

1. Urgent Updates: Transmission & Vaccine Information

2. CDC Guidance: Outdoor Mask Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

3. Information You Need: More on the variants

4. All Things Vaccine: Tips for registering for a vaccine appointment




1. Urgent Updates: Transmission & Vaccine Information


Updated as of: 05-03-2021

Weekly case, death, and hospitalization counts: High, cases and hospitalizations increasing

In the past week, there has been an average of:
Cases per day711
Deaths per day16
Compared to two weeks ago:
Cases per dayIncreased by 8% ↗
Deaths per dayDecreased by 19% ↘
Hospitalizations per dayIncreased by 2% ↗
For regularly updated case counts and additional COVID-19 information by county, visit the Arizona Department of Health’s data dashboard summary page.

Vaccine Information

In the past week, there has been an average of:
Number of peoplePercentage
Arizonans who are fully vaccinated2,162,19727%
Arizonans who have received at least one dose
(of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine)
2,867,48140%

4,589,516 total COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Arizona

It is still important to take safety precautions even after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Visit our previous update for more information.

Overall cases across the US are getting lower, we can all help keep this trend going by getting vaccinated and continuing to take basic necessary precautions (e.g., practicing hand hygiene, physical distancing in public, and wearing cloth face coverings in public and around unvaccinated individuals) to prevent COVID-19 spread.



2. CDC Guidance: Outdoor Mask Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals


On April 27th, the CDC updated their guidance for fully vaccinated people and outdoor activities. It is now considered safe for fully vaccinated (i.e., those who have received either both doses of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than two weeks ago), non-immunocompromised people to attend small, uncrowded, outdoor gatherings without wearing masks.

  • Unvaccinated, partially vaccinated (i.e., those who have only received one dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks have not passed since the final or only required vaccination), or immunocompromised individuals should continue to wear masks at all times around those who are not members of their household when physical distancing is not possible. 

The CDC defines a small gathering as: “informal in nature, may occur with family and friends you regularly socialize with, often at someone’s residence (or outdoors). They typically do not involve long distance travel. Small gathering guidance might be more appropriate for social gatherings that are more intimate with close friends and family, such as small holiday parties, family dinners, and small special celebrations.” For more CDC guidance for small gatherings, please visit this website.

For other CDC guidance on fully vaccinated individuals, visit this link.



3. Information You Need: More on the variants




Viruses are constantly mutating. It is normal. In fact there are thousands of variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The vast majority of mutations are insignificant. But some can help the virus be passed on to people more easily, more easily cause infections in people who are vaccinated or who already had COVID-19, make it harder for our lab tests to identify them, or cause more serious disease. For SARS-CoV-2 these are typically mutations to the spike protein. The spike protein is what helps the virus get into our cells. The CDC classifies these variants into three categories:

Variants of interest (VOI): initial evidence of variants with genetic markers that indicate they may be more severe, more transmissible, or escape our immune system but further evidence is needed.

Variants of concern (VOC): moderate concern with documented impacts on transmission, severity, and ability to escape our immune system – these are the ones most in the news. 

Variants of high consequence (VOHC): high concern, these are variants that would greatly reduce the effectiveness of our current control methods, treatments and vaccines. We do not have any SARS-CoV-2 variants that are identified as VOHC.

While they sound scary, it is most important to note that our vaccines still work quite well to reduce infection and severe illness for current VOC even though there is a lower immune response.

The new variant out of India B1.167 is still listed as a Variant of Interest because there is less known about it at this time. It shares a mutation with the California variant (B.1.429) that makes it more transmissible and another mutation that the Brazilian P.1. and South African variants have that allow them to escape the immune system. Vaccines still appear to be effective against this variant too.

Variants of concern that are most in the news right now are P.1. from Brazil, B.1.351 from South Africa, B.1.427 and B.1.429 from California, and B.1.1.7 from the United Kingdom. They are more likely to happen in places where transmission is really high and there is some evidence that infected people who are immunocompromised are more likely to generate new variants. 

The B.1.1.7 and B1.429 were the most common variants in Arizona in March. You can keep up with the most current data on Arizona variants here: AZ COVID-19 Sequencing Dashboard (tgen.org) B1.1.7 is more easily transmissible, which is why it is taking over as a dominant variant. While originally scientists thought it might cause more severe disease, recent studies suggest severity is not changed. Importantly, our immune system seems to be able to recognize B.1.1.7 quite well after vaccination or a previous infection. The B.1.429 is less transmissible than B1.1.7, but is more likely to escape our immune system. 

The new variants:

  • Are responsible for causing the majority of COVID-19 cases
    • Only some of the COVID-19 test samples undergo genetic sequencing to determine what variant caused the infection, but estimates suggest that the new variants are causing over 60% of all United States cases.
  • Have the ability to be more easily transmitted from person to person
    • The B.1.1.7 variant with origins in the UK is estimated to be 50% more transmissible than the original version of the virus. The B1.429 variant is about 20% more transmissible. 
  • Appear to affect young people more than the original version of the virus
    • Exact reasons for this are not yet understood, but it may be because a larger proportion of the U.S. population over the age of 65 have been fully vaccinated.
    • Data also shows increasing numbers of B.1.1.7 cases reported in children. This is likely because children are more active outside of the home and may have more exposure to the more contagious variants.
  • Cause COVID-19 cases to stay contagious for longer periods of time
    • Evidence shows that cases who contract the variants of the virus are infectious sooner after they are exposed and stay infectious for a longer period of time. 
    • If you become sick with COVID-19 symptoms, be sure to get tested. If the result is positive, it is better to assume that you have an infection caused by a new variant. Be sure to stay home and isolate for a longer period of time (e.g., 14 days instead of the recommended 10 days) to ensure you are no longer contagious.
  • May lead to more re-infections of COVID-19
    • Research is showing that antibodies from a prior natural infection of COVID-19 may not protect as well from re-infection caused by some of the new variants. 

More research is needed on these variants, but it is apparent that they are cause for concern. Be sure to wear your face mask, get your COVID-19 vaccination, and encourage others to do the same!

For information about variants of COVID-19, visit our previous update.



4. All Things Vaccine: Tips for registering for a vaccine appointment


Special contributions from Dora Valencia, a PhD student at the University of Arizona.
Dora has registered hundreds of people to get vaccinated using these tips and tricks!

Whether you are registering yourself or someone else for a vaccine appointment, these tips will help you do so more easily and more efficiently! 

  1. Register for a Vaccine Patient Portal account in advance – even if appointments are not available.
  • That way when appointments do open, all of the required information is filled out and all that is left is picking the appointment time and signing the consents!
  • For step by step instructions on how to register for a Vaccine Patient Portal account, visit our previous update.
  1. While you are near your computer, leave the Vaccine Patient Portal website open on one side of your screen. 
  • The website will refresh automatically when appointments open up.
  1. It is a good idea for families to use the same Vaccine Patient Portal account.
  • The website allows anyone to sign up their family members or other dependents.
  • That way, all personal and appointment information for family members or other dependents are in the same account and only one email address is needed for multiple appointments.
  1. If you would rather obtain a vaccine at a local pharmacy or clinic, use this link. 
  • You can search for all vaccines by zip code to find a nearby vaccination site.

Note: the blue text indicates a link to a website.



The next update will include information about children and the COVID-19 vaccines. 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 April 26th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of April 19th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of April 12th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of April 5th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of March 29th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of March 22nd (English | Spanish)
Update from week of March 15th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of March 8th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of March 1st (English | Spanish)
Update from week of February 22nd (English | Spanish)
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Update from week of January 25th (English | Spanish)
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Update from week of November 16th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of November 9th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of November 2nd (English | Spanish)
Update from week of October 26th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of October 19th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of October 12th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of October 5th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of September 28th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of September 21th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of September 14th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of September 7th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of August 31st (English | Spanish)
Update from week of August 24th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of August 17th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of August 10th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of August 3rd (English | Spanish)
Update from week of July 27th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of July 20th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of July 13th (English | Spanish)
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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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