Arizona’s number of new coronavirus cases reached its highest level since the summer, but progress is being made.
“Thank goodness for science,” said Will Humble, the Arizona Public Health Association executive director, and former state health director.
The Trump administration reached an agreement in July with pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. and a German biotechnology company to produce vaccines, according to The New York Times. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the nearly $2 billion contract is a part of Operation Warp Speed: an initiative to “produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines.”
Humble gave props to the Trump administration for purchasing the production of vaccines, with an estimated 50 million doses projected to come in the first wave. This leaves approximately one million vaccines to go to Arizona, which Humble says are on the cusp of completion if approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Pfizer says that the vaccines have a 90% success rate, and the more effective the vaccine, “the quicker we will get to herd immunity,” Humble said. Herd immunity describes a population that has reached a level of immunity from infection. This comes into effect when person-to-person spread is no longer a major concern.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert issued a mask-wearing mandate along with a state of emergency declaration Monday. Gov. Doug Ducey has yet to follow suit.
“[Masks are] an evidence-based practice that works. It’s a very high return on investment,” said Humble, who noted Ducey’s promise of an evidence-based, data-driven administration five to six years ago.
“The bottom line is people need to know that wherever you go in Arizona, [any] public place that is indoors, there is an expectation that you wear a face-covering.”
Looking at the future
“Testing is so much better. If you think back to June, there was practically no testing; you could get tested, but you would get the results two weeks later,” Humble said. “Now, we get these rapid tests that are in pretty wide distribution.”
Experts recommend extra precautions this holiday season with school back in session and holiday travels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published guidelines to help promote safer Thanksgiving celebrations.