Between August 3, 2021 and August 10, 2021, Arizona logged over 2,000 COVID-19 cases each day for an entire week. On Wednesday, August 11 there were 1,970 new cases and 6 new COVID-19-related deaths. 53.6% of Arizona eligible residents have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Over 22% of Arizona’s intensive care unit (ICU) beds are in use by COVID-19 patients and 9% of beds are available.
This information comes from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) COVID-19 data dashboard.
In this week’s press conference, Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief medical officer for Banner Health maintained the firm tone she carried the week prior when warning patients in the Banner network about the increase in intensive care unit admissions for COVID-19-related patients. There are currently 435 patients in Banner ICUs and last year at the same time there were 484 — although in addition to the increase in COVID-19 admissions the hospitals are seeing an unusual increase in non-COVID patients as well.
Dr. Bessel went on to address the concern for pediatric COVID-19 patients. Banner saw 71 COVID-positive pediatric cases in the month of July, double what occurred in the month of June. As part of Banner’s concern, Dr. Bessel listed steps to take to best protect children in schools. While Banner’s official position is in line with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Bessel declined to answer political questions about the governor’s ban on mask mandates for schools.
An Arizona mother and internal medicine specialist at University Medical Center in Phoenix, Christina Bergin, didn’t make the same hesitation on Twitter last Saturday. Bergin, whose daughter is in Arizona’s public schools, received a letter from the school after only three days into the semester announcing that another child in her daughter’s class tested positive for the coronavirus, the Washington Post reports. She posted a Twitter thread criticizing Governor Doug Ducey’s school policies and the thread quickly caught attention, garnering more than 80,000 likes and 25,000 retweets.
We have sacrificed so much for you over these past 18 months. And it only took 3 days for you to destroy one of the last things I was hanging onto — the ability to keep my kids safe.
There is some debate about how effective masks are for reducing COVID-19 transmission in children, as the Wall Street Journal reports. While most children are fine, others can have difficulty focusing with masks on, many experience difficulty with glasses fogging and there is some suggestion that masks on children can lead to increased levels of carbon dioxide in their blood.
This debate doesn’t hold for adults for whom masks demonstrably reduce spread, and the adult students attending Arizona State University will now be required to wear masks in classrooms and laboratories. According to AZCentral, the language of the governor’s executive order banning mask mandates on school campuses was so vague that it does not preclude mandatory mask use at all, but rather prohibits the university from singling out unvaccinated students for mask requirements.
This caveat probably doesn’t extend to the nine Arizona school districts that ignored recent legislation barring them from requiring masks on campus. On Wednesday, 26 Republican legislators called on Governor Ducey to enforce the law against the “rogue” districts requiring masks by withholding funding from schools. Furthermore the legislators want the state to sue the districts and offer temporary Empowerment Scholarship Accounts to students who do not want to attend non-compliant schools.
Stated plainly, the legislature did its job by passing common sense laws to protect the children and students of Arizona from anti-science mask and vaccine mandates, now we are eager to see the executive branch do its job to ensure that those laws are faithfully executed by the various levels of government within this state.
Around the State
Just over a month after Dr. Michael White, Chief Medical Officer of Valleywise Health announced that the COVID-19 ICU at Valleywise was empty, it has reopened. The first 12-bed unit is now full and the second COVID-19 unit is in the process of filling up, AZFamily reports. From Dr. White:
Over the last week and a half, we’ve had to reopen, so we’re now operating two separate COVID-19 units to be able to accommodate the increased number of patients that are presenting to us that require hospitalization.
From ICU Nurse Kendal Gribler:
I didn’t ever think we’d get back here again.
According to the DCourier, there were 382 COVID-19 cases in Yavapai county alone last week, with 48 of them under the age of 18.
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