COVID-19 cases in Arizona continue to rise as vaccination rates stagnate

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As we mentioned earlier, COVID is on the increase in Arizona. Health officials say it’s due to spread of the coronavirus Delta-variant, along with less than robust vaccination rates. Earlier today we spoke with Dr. Joe Gerald, who’s been researching and modeling the spread of covid for the university of Arizona.

Gerald said that COVID-19 cases are definitely on the rise and that it’s a significant issue for the state. The uncertainty comes when asked how bad it’s going to get.

“We just don’t have a lot of certainty around that,” Gerald said.

For context, he added that the current rate of daily cases the state is experiencing now is about 1/8 what was seen at the peak of the winter spike in January of this year.

“So, while things are worse than they were,” Gerald said, “they’re not nearly as bad as six or eight months ago.”

He said that he thinks it’s unlikely that we get back to numbers that high, but still there are many people getting sick and even hospitalized/passing away.

He also said that the percentage of unvaccinated individuals in the state is a concern, especially for decreasing case rate and hospitalization rate.

When asked about how concerned vaccinated people should be of the rising cases, Gerald said that there’s an appropriate level. “It’s something to be concerned about but not afraid of,” he said. He acknowledged that there are breakthrough cases, in which vaccinated people develop symptomatic COVID-19, but a very small amount of those individuals end up in the hospital.

“The vaccine is very protective against serious illness and a little bit less so against becoming infected,” Gerald said.

As far as receiving the vaccination even after having COVID-19, Gerald said that it’s the wise thing to do even if you may have had it. Getting the vaccine with COVID-19 antibodies already in place can elicit an even stronger immune response in the body.

Dr. Joe Gerald, Associate Professor & Program Director, Public Health Policy & Management, University of Arizona

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