What You Need to Know-Week of December 6th

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




In this Update:

1. Urgent Updates: COVID-19 Metrics

2. Testing Tips: How to improve the quality of an at-home COVID-19 test result

3.  Information You Need: Omicron Variant Identification




1. Urgent Updates: COVID-19 Metrics


Updated as of: 12-06-2021

Important note on hospitalizations: As of 12/06, there are less than 100 ICU beds available in hospitals across the state. Similarly, only 6% of inpatient beds are now available across the state. This leaves an incredibly small amount of hospital beds available for incoming admissions (e.g., for heart attacks, injuries, etc.).

Weekly case, death, and hospitalization counts:

In the past week, there has been an average of:
Cases per day4,038
Deaths per day51
Compared to two weeks ago:
Cases per dayIncreased by 1% ↗
Deaths per dayIncreased by 42% ↗
Hospitalizations per dayIncreased by 13% ↗
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

Number of ArizonansPercentage in ArizonaPercentage in U.S.
Individuals who are fully vaccinated (all ages)3,893,33555%60%
Individuals who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (all ages)4,531,25365%71%

9,187,694 total COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Arizona

For a breakdown of vaccination by Arizona counties, visit the CDC’s website.

For updated vaccine information and data in Arizona, visit this link and click on the “Vaccine Administration” icon.



2. Testing Tips: How to improve the quality of an at-home COVID-19 test result


At-home, or self tests for COVID-19 are becoming more widely available for use! There are many types of these tests, which do vary in their ability to detect the COVID-19 virus. However, you can improve the quality of your at-home test result by doing the following:

Ahead of use:

  1. Follow the instructions provided on the test for how to properly store the test prior to use
  2. Only open the test at the time you are planning to use it
  3. If you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, be sure not to take the test too early. It is a good idea to wait until at least 3 days after the exposure or when you have onset of symptoms. Testing too early might give you a false negative. 

At the time of use:

  1. Always read and follow the test manufacturer’s instructions carefully
  2. Check to make sure the test is not expired or that any components are broken
  3. Disinfect the surface where you will be completing the test
  4. Wash your hands
  5. Complete the test:

After use:

  1. If your test requires the specimen to be returned for laboratory testing, follow the instructions provided
  2. Throw away all remaining test components (at-home tests are single use)
  3. Disinfect the surface where you completed the test
  4. Wash your hands

If your test requires laboratory testing of the specimen, follow these steps while waiting for your results.

After receiving your test results:

  • Visit this link for information on what your test results mean.
  • If you test positive, stay home, contact those you may have exposed, let your doctor and health department know about your test. 
  • If you are negative, stay home anyway if you are feeling ill. It could be a false negative or another disease like influenza. If you must go out, wear a high quality mask such as a KN95. 

Important information about outbreaks:

  • If you learn that you and others you know have tested positive and have a shared exposure, like going to the same event or restaurant, you should notify your local health department. It is important for the local health department to know about potential outbreaks so they can work to keep others from getting sick. Self-testing is great, but it prevents public health from being able to detect and respond to outbreaks. 

Visit the CDC’s website for more information on self-testing.


3. Information You Need: Omicron Variant Identification


What is Omicron?

The Omicron, or B.1.1.529, SARS-CoV-2 variant has received heavy attention in the news lately. The World Health Organization has labeled Omicron as a variant of concern due to the high number (n=26) of uniquely identified viral mutations. While it is too soon to understand the extent to which these mutations increase immune escape (the ability of the virus to still cause an infection even if you have been previously infected or are vaccinated), transmissibility and/or severity of the variant compared to other versions (e.g., Delta), scientists are working diligently to better understand these changes.. 

Where in the world has it been identified so far?

The variant was first identified in South Africa, but has since been discovered in other areas across the world including Canada, Germany, Australia, and Hong Kong. As of Wednesday, December 1st, the first United States Omicron case was identified in California and as of December 7th, it has been found in 17 states, including neighboring Colorado, California, Texas and Utah. It is highly possible that it is already in Arizona, but is circulating undetected. Only a small fraction of cases in Arizona are genotyped. Arizona COVIDseq Tracker (tgen.org)

What are the next steps?

It is important not to panic! New variants are going to continue to develop over time. It is normal when transmission globally is so high. Much research is still needed to understand the specifics of the Omicron variant, including how easily it can be spread, how our immune systems would respond to an infection, and how effective the current vaccines are. If booster shots become recommended for Omicron, vaccine manufacturers including Pfizer, J&J, and Moderna, have all expressed intentions of creating an updated vaccine that will aim to protect against the variant. The vaccine technology is flexible and it will take months, not years, to create boosters for new variants if needed. 

What does this mean for you? 

  • Stay tuned for more information as more research on Omicron becomes available. 
  • Continue safety precautions such as mask wearing and physical distancing, regardless of vaccination status. 
    • Elevate your mask by wearing KN95, KF94 or N95 if you are immunosuppressed. Delta is causing very high transmission right now and the holidays are coming up, so keep yourself and your loved ones safer. 
  • Get vaccinated or get a booster shot if you are eligible. See our past Update from November 22, 2021, or visit the CDC’s Vaccination Booster website for up to date information on booster eligibility. 
    • Your booster is likely to give you even higher antibody titres than after your second dose. But remember, it still takes time for them to form. Maximum benefits will take a week or two after the booster is given. 




The next update will cover information on COVID-19 becoming endemic. 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 November 29th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of November 22nd (English | Spanish)
Update from week of November 15th (English | Spanish)
Update from week of November 8th (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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