Monday, June 1, 2020

COVID-19 on the rise in Pima County

Your Scriber has been monitoring the number of new cases in Pima County via the reporting in the Daily Star of new cases per day in Pima. During the first part of May, my (spotty) records show an average of 38 new cases per day. Since May 25 I got more serious and started recording the number of cases each day. Here they are:
28, 25, 29, 44, 48, 67, 56, 78
The trend in early- to mid-May was going down but now it has flipped and is increasing rapidly.

What happened? The great re-opening is my guess. Less social distancing led to more infections.

There are two ways to spell freedom. That’s one. For the other? What rhymes with “dom”?

Other reporting indicates that Arizona is not in good shape now and is likely to become sicker.

This morning the Star featured an op-ed by Dr. Quinn Snyder 100+ Arizona Physicians: Test, trace and isolate in Arizona now.

As America crosses the tragic threshold of 100,000 citizens dead from COVID–19 in less than four months’ time, it is time to accurately assess where the pandemic stands here in Arizona.

Although coronavirus infections are on the decline in many parts of America, infection rates and hospitalizations appear to be on the rise in Arizona. Projections by the University of Washington indicate Arizona will likely have the highest death rate from COVID–19 in the country in a matter of weeks.

The Navajo Nation in the northeast corner of our state has seen the pandemic take hold with the highest per-capita infection rate in the nation. It is so catastrophic that Doctors Without Borders, an organization devoted to providing healthcare support to areas of international conflict experiencing medical crises, was recently dispatched there to help. It is the first time in history that this organization has been deployed anywhere within America’s borders. Our state’s coronavirus testing capacity remains woefully inadequate. Arizona currently ranks 49th in viral diagnostic testing, according to ongoing research from Johns Hopkins University. People remain unclear about where or how they can obtain a test, let alone when a test is needed. Many have abandoned efforts to seek testing after weeks of being given mixed messages about who qualifies for a test. The turnaround time for tests ranges from hours to days to weeks, often providing a result which is irrelevant and unhelpful by the time it has been received.


Gov. Doug Ducey and AZDHS should immediately develop a detailed plan to test, trace and isolate. Executing such a plan and committing to full implementation will require bold leadership and a significant investment in the necessary infrastructure of supplies, personnel, technology, methodology and a clear plan of data sharing.

As physicians, we know that it is imperative that our state acts urgently and decisively if we are to save the lives of perhaps thousands of Arizonans who could otherwise die needlessly from this terrible disease. This is a STAT call to action. If we are to find our way out of this pandemic with meaningful reduction of additional human and economic toll, we must get this done.

Dr. Quinn Snyder is an emergency physician and public health advocate practicing in Mesa. This guest opinion was signed by over 100 physicians from across Arizona.

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