There were 915 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Arizona on Wednesday and 20 new COVID-19 related deaths. The total number of deaths is now 17,648. Nine percent of intensive care unit beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients statewide and 18% of ICU beds are available. 46.5% of eligible Arizonans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
This information comes from the Arizona Department of Health Services COVID-19 data dashboard.
Interest in the COVID-19 vaccine in Arizona is beginning to stall, due in part to the 10-day pause on administration of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen (J&J) vaccine in April. Despite partnerships between healthcare providers and government entities to get the COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable groups, there’s likely going to be a surplus that leads to the expiration of much of Arizona’s supply by the end of June, AZCentral reports. Arizona Public Health Association director Will Humble said that much of the concern originated with J&J:
I took some calls from county health folks over the last couple of weeks…. We just did some brainstorming about who they can contract with and get deeper into those communities that do seem enthusiastic about J&J. I don’t know the scale. I just know it’s more than one entity, it’s not just one county, it’s several counties, and it’s some universities that have more that they can use.
One of those underserved and vulnerable groups is Arizona’s migrant agricultural workers. According to the Fairfield Sun Times, there is much greater need and desire for the vaccine among these workers than distribution partnerships can provide. Over half a million agricultural workers tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States by March 10, and 7,200 of those cases were in Arizona.
Tribal Health Services Succeeding
The San Carlos Apache Tribe has nearly ended all cases of COVID-19 on the reservation, U.S. News reports. The average number of cases is down to less than 1% per week, according to the San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corp. The success is attributed to education campaigns, a strict emergency declaration and other community safety precautions.
The Navajo Nation will not take up the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that allows less restrictive guidance for those fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The Farmington Daily Times reports that Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Navajo Department of Health Director Jill Jim reaffirmed the Nation’s mask requirement on May 13, following the CDC announcement. From President Nez:
We are staying the course with our mask mandate here on the Navajo Nation. Everyone is still required to wear a mask in public, indoors and outdoors. We will continue to be very cautious and take careful steps to gradually lift restrictions once we see our vaccination numbers increase, but we need to do more to reach our goal of community immunity.
At least 75% of residents on tribal land need to be vaccinated before officials consider reopening to tourists and visitors.
A group of 117 Houston Methodist Hospital employees have sued the health system over a requirement that all employees get vaccinated against COVID-19. The requirement says that all employees must get the vaccine by June 7, Modern Healthcare reports. Employees argue that “Methodist Hospital is forcing its employees to be human ‘guinea pigs’ as a condition for continued employment” and allege that the hospital is violating the Nuremberg Code, which prohibits human experimentation.
The Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Food and Drug Administration recommend that health care providers in Arizona and five other states use REGEN-COV, an alternative monoclonal antibody therapy, in lieu of bamlanivimab and etesevimab together or etesevimab alone due to study results that suggest these drugs are not active against either the P.1 or B.1.351 variants. ASPR will pause distribution of bamlaniviman and etesevimab together and etesevimab alone for the time being, according to the Public Health Emergency website.
According to the Milliman Medical Index, the cost of healthcare for a family of four decreased for 2020 but is likely to rebound in 2021. This is due to individuals electing to not seek care due to concerns about the pandemic. But the costs are expected to jump this year by nearly $2,000 for a family of four. From MMI co-author Annie Man:
As people once again return to the doctor, we expect healthcare costs to grow by 8.4% for our MMI family in 2021. For that comparison, that rate is higher than in the past, and higher than GDP growth over the past five years.
The Wall Street Journal reports that economists warn that financial challenges related to COVID-19 affecting thousands of families will deepen inequality in developing countries around the globe. From Monica de Bolle, senior fellow at Peterson Institute for International Economics:
For these families, they will be bogged down by debt, and we don’t know for how long. You dig this inequality hole even deeper.