COVID-19 numbers and the new vaccines: where does Arizona stand?

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The announcement of yet another COVID-19 vaccine showing safe and effective results in late-stage clinical trials is certainly encouraging. But Arizona’s continued increase in COVID-19 cases is “not” good news and it’s leading to concerns over dwindling hospital capacity.

We talked about all this with former State Health Director, Will Humble.

Humble shared how the ASU Biodesign Institute is currently making predictive models that speculate future outcomes based on current COVID-19 data. Based on their current data, he is nervous about the fleeting capacity of hospitals and how it compares to the outbreak that Arizona faced in July.

“Quite honestly, the results that came out…were really pretty…disturbing,” Humble said. “We’re looking at a July type of situation by mid-December.”

Humble said it’s important to remember that hospital discharges do not occur as quickly as hospital admissions. He believes the number of admissions are building and will only continue to build as the nation moves into the holiday season.

ASU Biodesign ran models that calculated what the COVID-19 case count would look like with and without people gathering for Thanksgiving. Humble shared that the holiday will only expedite the transmission process.

“If you take Thanksgiving out of the mix, the hospital capacity crisis starts in mid-January,” Humble said. “But with Thanksgiving and all the mobility that comes with it….that moves everything up into mid-December.”

Humble trusts the ASU Biodesign team given the accuracy of their previous models since the start of the pandemic.

As for a mask mandate, Humble believes that the governor needs to put in a statewide mask mandate but it has to be the “right kind of statewide mask mandate.” He stated that businesses should be in charge of compliance with the mask policy instead of individuals.

“It’s not just one thing that is heading us toward this overcapacity in December, it’s many things,” Humble said.



Will Humble, Executive Director, Arizona Public Health Association

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