The positivity rate and number of new COVID-19 cases in Arizona is finally trending downward following the surge related to the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. Intensive care unit admissions and deaths have not yet crested and are expected to lag by about two weeks.
Dr. Richard Carmona, former U.S. Surgeon General and advisor to Governor Doug Ducey on the state’s public health emergency policies, told KTAR that it isn’t time to get comfortable quite yet.
We’re still in the midst of a pandemic. We have about 1.9 million cases in Arizona thus far and about 26,500 deaths. The important thing is that we don’t want people to let their guard down. They should still be getting vaccinated, washing their hands, masking when appropriate.
Arizona hospitals are still struggling to keep up with the surge. This week, a team of 15 healthcare workers arrived to help hospital staff at Canyon Vista Medical Center in Cochise County, but it’s only one of a dozen others that have requested federal assistance. According to AZCentral, Arizona has received at least 60 federal emergency healthcare workers during the most recent surge in cases.
Arizona’s U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly have called on Governor Ducey to activate the Arizona National Guard and deploy members to health centers in need of assistance. Even with the waning number of cases, Dr. Sam Durrani told AZFamily that activating the Guard could help prepare the state for future COVID-19 waves:
This surge, the damage has already been done. Many Arizonans lost their lives, unfortunately. Bur moving forward, I don’t think there’s any excuse for not being prepared for another pandemic surge.
Five Arizona COVID-19 testing centers and hundreds more across the country have closed following accusations that test samples were destroyed, improperly stored and false negatives were given to patients. The Center for COVID Control is now under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and multiple states, according to AZCentral.
Insurers have been concerned with price gouging and a lack of oversight for testing clinics, according to Healthcare Finance News. America’s Health Insurance Plans, the largest advocacy organization for insurers in the country, wants Congress to take action by eliminating the federal requirement that insurers pay “cash price” for tests delivered out-of-network.