AZDHS director expects COVID increase after Thanksgiving

Arizona reported nearly 1,000 additional COVID-19 cases on Oct. 22 as the state health director said she expects a “significant increase” a week or two after Thanksgiving because of family gatherings and students returning home.

“We expected to see an increase, so we’re monitoring that right now," Dr. Cara Christ, the director of the state Department of Health Services, said. "We don’t anticipate closing down. Unless the numbers were significantly increasing and we were seeing issues with hospital capacity.“

Christ’s department reported 994 additional known COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths, increasing the state’s totals to 234,906 cases and 5,859 deaths.

Arizona in the past month has seen a gradual increase in COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations. The state was a national hot spot in June and July before the outbreak diminished as many local governments imposed masking mandates and the state re-imposed some business restrictions. Current levels of cases and hospitalizations remain far below the summer peaks.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Arizonans should continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and stay home when sick, Christ said.

That particularly applies to younger adults who are at less risk of dying and who might relax their guard during family gatherings, Christ said.

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According to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Associated Press, seven-day rolling averages in Arizona for the positivity rate and for daily new cases have risen in the past two weeks.

The positivity rate rolling average rose from 6.6% on Oct. 7 to 9.2% on Thursday, while the daily new cases rolling average rose from 576 to 897.

The rolling average for daily deaths in Arizona remained at just under 12 during the same period.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Monitor your health daily

MAP: Worldwide interactive Coronavirus case data

MAP: Arizona Coronavirus cases by zip code


CDC: How coronavirus spreads, symptoms, prevention, treatment, FAQ

Arizona COVID-19 resources, FAQ:

On, you'll find extensive coverage about COVID-19, including breaking news from around the country, exclusive interviews with health officials, and informative content from a variety of public health resources.


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

Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus, but may put you in a better position to fight it.

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.