As Arizona nears its coronavirus peak, health experts talk social distancing efforts

According to the latest estimates, Arizona is still a few weeks from its projected peak in coronavirus cases and deaths.

It won't be until we hit our peak in cases, that state officials can start to consider pulling back social distancing guidelines.

Most models predict Arizona’s peak will be around April 26th, give or take a day or two.

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“It shows social distancing is working," said Will Humble, Director at Arizona Public Health Association.

He was the head of the state health department during the H1N1 outbreak a decade ago, what he now calls a "dress rehearsal" for COVID-19.

He says social distancing is flattening the curve, creeping the state closer to the safer side.

“Hospital beds, [intensive care unit] beds, ventilators, those core indicators is what I will be looking at," Humble said. "Once you begin to see the level out, you become more confident on the backside of the curve."

The county is still collecting beds and ventilators to prepare for the virus peak, and when that day finally comes, the pandemic playbook will start to shift.

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“Once we hit the peak and we get back down, I think that’s when people start to make recommendations that we can resume large gatherings but the timing is very difficult to predict," said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, Director at Maricopa County Health Department.

After a crest in cases, elected officials can consider when and how to pull back on social distancing without sparking a second wave.

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“Our best thing to do is to watch the countries that have experienced a virus before us, in particular in China and other countries surrounding it. If they experience a second wave, that’ll be the best information to tell us that we are likely to experience one as well," Sunenshine said.