The latest in COVID-19 data in Arizona

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Are we seeing an end to the latest spike of COVID-19? And what do we know about a new omicron variant that’s just now hitting Arizona. We asked former state health director Will Humble, now the Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association.

Humble said that if you look at the two-year period of the pandemic we are at the tail-end of it.

“I really do believe that we are at the end of the epidemic part of the pandemic and transitioning towards what would become endemic which means it will no longer be a public health emergency, the virus will still circulate, people will still get infections,” Humble said.

He added that even though people will still become infected with the virus it will no longer pose the same kind of public health threat and the individual threat that it has posed over the last two years.

If you look at the data this week, the epidemiology curve is starting to come down for infections but, “we are still on the ‘up’ slope for new hospitalizations and that’s going to continue probably for at least a couple weeks,” Humble said.

Humble believes the omicron variant is “less lethal” because this version of the virus replicates in the upper respiratory system as opposed to the other COVID-19 variants that show up in the lungs.

He said that if it’s replicating within the upper respiratory system then it will be less likely that it translates into pneumonia which was a key issue with the previous variants that made it more deadly.

Omicron is a lot more contagious because the virus shows up in the throat as opposed to the lungs.

Humble shared that t-cells play a huge role in the fight against the omicron variant.

“T-cells are the main part of your immune system that really fights those viruses just on the battle field.”

Will Humble, Executive Director, Arizona Public Health Association

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