While Greenlee County hasn’t lost any residents to COVID-19 in the last two weeks and the number of cases have been decreasing, at least one health official is concerned about what the next couple of weeks could bring.
“Although daily new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are finally decreasing in Arizona from the winter holiday surges, I fully expect those numbers to increase again beginning two weeks after the Super Bowl, followed later by hospitalizations and later still by another increase in deaths,” Dr. Fred Fox, Greenlee County Health Department medical director said Sunday. “While the holiday surge was mostly the result of smaller family get togethers, Super Bowl parties, get togethers, and other celebrations will be larger and louder which are conditions more conducive to increased transmission of the virus. I hope this is not the case.”
In Greenlee County, 15 residents were diagnosed Jan. 24-Jan. 30 and an even dozen caught the virus Jan. 31-Feb. 6. The county hasn’t lost any residents to COVID-19 over the last two weeks, but have lost six since last March.
Back on Dec. 30, the positivity rate in Greenlee County was 30%. According to the latest state statistics, as of Jan. 17 it had dropped to 7.7%.
According to an email from Fox, the county has received 3,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 2,625 residents have received their first shot and 275 have received both shots.
“The weekly allocation has varied significantly (1,300 received 1/18, 1,000 on 1/26, and only 200 on 2/2). We expect to receive 1,000 on around 2/9. The inconsistency of vaccine allocation has created challenges and made planning difficult,” Fox said.
However, there has been “incredible collaboration” between the Greenlee County Health Department, Gila Health Resources, the school districts and Freeport-McMoRan and it has helped them overcome many obstacles, he said.
“They clearly care about their community and are the engine that drives our effort,” Fox said. “While weekly production of the Moderna vaccine is increasing, the predictability of continued weekly shipments is uncertain. Yet if current allotments do remain constant, the majority of Greenlee County adults who wish vaccination could complete the two dose series by early June. I hope this remains the situation.”
Greenlee County health care workers, adults 65 and older, first responders, educators and other essential workers are continuing to get their shots, he said.
“Occasionally residents in 1C (adults 18 — 64 years old with chronic medical conditions) are called on short notice in order not to waste vaccine from opened vials at the conclusion of vaccine clinics,” he said.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, just over 38,000 Arizona residents were diagnosed Jan. 24-Jan. 30 and just under 26,000 were diagnosed Jan. 31-Feb. 6.
However, the number of patients who have died while battling COVID-19 rose by nearly 1,000 during that two week period. From Jan. 24-Jan. 30, 928 patients died. From Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 10,013 died.
As of Sunday, 2,853 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized and of those, 828 were in ICU.
On Jan. 24, 4,229 COVID-19 patients were in the hospital and 1,027 were in ICU.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly 27 million Americans have caught the virus and as of Sunday, 460,582 have died.