What You Need to Know-Week of January 17th

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




In this Update:

1. Urgent Updates: COVID-19 Metrics

2. Information You Need: What we know about Omicron

3. Information You Need: New CDC Quarantine and Isolation Guidance




1. Urgent Updates: COVID-19 Metrics


Updated as of: 01-20-2022

Weekly case, death, and hospitalization counts:

In the past week, there has been an average of:
Cases per day20,261
Deaths per day61
Compared to two weeks ago:
Cases per dayIncreased by 175% ↗
Deaths per dayIncreased by 6% ↗
Hospitalizations per dayIncreased by 34% ↗
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 vaccinated4,025,30458%62%
Individuals who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine4,854,34275%63%

10,350,122 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. Information You Need: What we know about Omicron


The Omicron variant was first detected at the end of November 2021, in South Africa and was named a “variant of concern” due to the identification of over 50 viral mutations. Keep reading for more information about what is currently known about this variant. 

Transmission: Omicron has been found to be between two to three times more contagious than Delta, an already highly contagious variant. Currently, cases are doubling every 2 – 4 days in many areas within the US.

Reinfection: Some studies show that risk of reinfection for those who have previously developed COVID-19 with the Omicron variant has increased by 5 times. 

Symptoms: While symptoms can vary by person, the main symptoms experienced appear to be:

  • Sore or “scratchy” throat
  • Dry cough
  • Congestion
  • Muscle aches or pains

Severity: Evidence is demonstrating that overall, Omicron is causing less severe COVID-19 infections compared to the previously identified Delta variant. However, the current soaring case rates still mean a high number of hospitalizations, regardless of this noted decrease in severity. Hospitals and healthcare workers are overwhelmed and understaffed due to many falling ill. Those who are unvaccinated are much more likely to be hospitalized with Omicron. 

Long-term health effects: While much more needs to be understood about this variant, experts suggest that it is likely that cases of the Omicron variant can still cause a person to experience longer-term symptoms.

Vaccine effectiveness: Infection after vaccination is more likely to occur with Omicron than with previous variants. You can think of the antibodies and antigens (parts of the virus that the antibodies attach to) are like a lock and key. The antibody is the lock and the parts of the virus protein are the key trying to open the cell. When the virus mutates the lock shape is not quite right and may not prevent the viral entry as often as in previous variants. 

However, the vaccines appear to remain highly successful at reducing the risk of hospitalization or death. A recent CDC media release stated that currently available data shows a 35% effectiveness for those who have received a full two dose series of an mRNA vaccine (e.g., Pfizer or Moderna). Effectiveness increases to 75% with a mRNA vaccine booster dose. It is also clear that immunity wanes as time passes since vaccination. 

Importantly, recent evidence also suggests that prior infection is not as effective as vaccination in preventing infection or illness with Omicron. 

Updated guidance: The CDC has recently shortened their guidance for quarantine and isolation due to new science showing that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission happens during the 1-2 days before symptoms begin and in the 2-3 days following symptom onset.

Treatments and prevention: Fortunately, the current treatments for COVID-19 are still effective against the Omicron variant. Prevention techniques such as mask wearing, hand washing with soap and water, and vaccines are even more essential to break the chain of transmission for this variant. 

What will the future of Omicron look like? Right now there is not an entirely clear picture of what the spread of Omicron will look like. The future depends on individual compliance with wearing masks and uptake in initial vaccine and booster doses. Additionally, wearing a well-fitting mask, especially a N95 or KN95 mask whenever you are in public is imperative to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. 
When will the Omicron wave be over? Given how rapidly Omicron spreads, we are likely to reach peak transmission before the end of January. Then we will be on the downslope of the transmission curve. It will take several more weeks to reach pre-Omicron levels.


3. Information You Need: New CDC Quarantine and Isolation Guidance


As of December 27th, the CDC has updated their guidance on COVID-19 quarantine and isolation as a result of what is currently known about the Omicron variant. First, let’s remember what each of these terms mean.

  • You should quarantine yourself if you have been a close contact of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. Isolation, on the other hand, is the term used if you, yourself have COVID-19. For more information about what these terms mean, visit this website.

With these terms in mind, the new CDC guidance is as follows:

Quarantine:
If you have been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus, use the following guidance:
Important note: Day 0 is the day that you have been exposed to the person who tested positive.

Quarantine guidance

10 days following an exposure to someone who tested positive for the virus

Days 1 – 5Days 6 – 10
If you have received a booster dose 
OR
If it has been less than 6 months since your second Pfizer or Monderna vaccine dose or more than 2 months since your J&J vaccine dose
OR 
it has been less than 90 days since you had a confirmed case (you tested positive) of COVID-19
You do not need to quarantine yourself, but you should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days following the day you were exposed.
Take a COVID-19 test on day 5, if possible. PCR testing is recommended over rapid tests, as PCR tests will more accurately tell you if the virus is detected. 
You do not need to quarantine yourself, but you should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days following the day you were exposed.
It has been more than 6 months since your second Pfizer or Monderna vaccine dose 
or more than 2 months since your J&J vaccine dose 
AND you have not received a booster dose:
Stay home and avoid contact with others 
Take a COVID-19 test on day 5, if possible. PCR testing is recommended over rapid tests, as PCR tests will more accurately tell you if the virus is detected. 
Wear a well-fitting mask whenever you are around others (including members of your household)
If you are unvaccinated (and have not yet received a booster dose):Stay home and avoid contact with others 
Take a COVID-19 test on day 5, if possible. PCR testing is recommended over rapid tests, as PCR tests will more accurately tell you if the virus is detected. 
Wear a well-fitting mask whenever you are around others (including members of your household)

If at any time during your quarantine period you begin experiencing symptoms or receive a positive COVID-19 test, begin immediately following the protocol outlined below for completing isolation. 

For more information about how to quarantine, visit this website.

Isolation (for everyone, regardless of vaccination):

If you have COVID-19, it is advised that you take the following precautions for 10 days following either the first day you begin experiencing symptoms, or following a positive test if you are asymptomatic. In other words, day 0 is the day that you begin feeling symptoms or receive a positive COVID-19 test result.

Isolation Guidance

Days 1 – 5Days 6 – 10
Isolate yourself away from others as best you can. If you continue to feel symptoms on day 5 continue isolation until symptoms have resolved.You can take an antigen test on Day 5 – if it is still positive, you likely have fairly high viral loads and should continue to isolate. PCR tests, on the other hand, are more sensitive and can remain positive for weeks. Wear a mask whenever you are around othersIf you live with anyone who has not also tested positive, be sure to wear your mask while at home. 

For more information about how to isolate, visit this website.

For more information about the updated guidance, please visit this website.




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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