ASU health expert speaks out as Arizona continues to see a spike in COVID-19 cases

Health officials in Arizona are trying to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as cases continue to climb again in the state.

In Arizona, over 2,000 new cases were reported on Nov. 11, with a little more than half coming from Maricopa County alone.

Dr. Joshua LaBaer, Director of Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute, is advising the public to continue to get tested, as well as staying away from large gatherings, as the holidays get closer.

"At around 2,000 now, that means in a couple of weeks, we will be over 4,000 new cases, which is not really something we want to see," said Dr. LaBaer.

Dr. LaBaer says the doubling rate of COVID-19 cases in Arizona is taking about two weeks' time. While the spread is not as fast as this past summer, counties like Apache, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Navajo and Yuma are also seeing spikes.

"Maricopa is pretty much along with everybody else, which is we've got a lot of new cases obviously because we have a large population, but we're not rising as fast as the former counties I mentioned," said Dr. LaBaer.

Dr. Labaer cites gyms, bars, restaurants, and indoor facilities where particles spread as factors.

"People are breathing in those places," said Dr. LaBaer. "They're not always wearing masks in those places, and they're sharing air indoors, and I think that's going to be contributing to the spread of the virus."

Large gatherings during the holidays are not recommended, as the country is in the midst of a flu season as well.

In Arizona, the state has seen a little more than 265,000 cases during the pandemic, with 47% of the cases involving those between the ages of 20 and 44. With Snowbirds returning, Dr. LaBaer foresees crowded hospitals if cases continue to rise.

"The highest occupancy of our hospitals, on a usual annual basis, is in the sort of January timeframe, when everybody has come to Arizona to escape their cold weather," said Dr. LaBaer.

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COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)