The latest COVID-19 data may show the first signs of improvement since the surge of summer cases in Arizona, although public health analysts say more time is needed to point to a firm trend.
After weeks of case spikes, it’s possible daily case counts may be flattening, but it will take time to see if this trend continues given test results reporting lags.
Emergency room visits by people with COVID-like-symptoms dropped over the past week, with the exception of a jump back up on Tuesday, according to hospital-reported data posted by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Other hospital metrics like beds in use are still increasing most days, but may be doing so less quickly. It appears inpatient beds are starting to level off.
And the percentage of tests that have come back positive, which has hovered at the highest level nationwide, may be gradually plateauing or decreasing — but still, at a very high level.
All these metrics remain near the highest that have been reported since the pandemic began, but they may be starting to trend downwards. Another week or two will provide more certainty.
“There are some encouraging signs that the pace of this outbreak is moderating,” said Joe Gerald, an associate professor at University of Arizona’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
“I do see some encouraging signs in some of the data. Not all of the data, but some of the data, and it is cause for some very cautious optimism,” said Gerald, who has been modeling Arizona’s outbreak for several months.
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