COVID-19 numbers increasing in Arizona after stay-at-home order was lifted

A highly magnified, digitally colorized transmission electron microscopic (TEM) image showing a coronavirus (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID))

Friday was not a good day, as Arizona continues its battle against COVID-19.

According to numbers released by the Arizona Department of Health Services, 702 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Friday, in addition to 28 new deaths.

Until recently, the numbers had been trending flat or slightly down, and it was one reason behind Gov. Doug Ducey's decision to lift Arizona's stay-at-home order.

That all changed this week, with numbers heading in the wrong direction. The recent upward tick in cases also lines up with the lifting of the stay-at-home order.

"The increase, in cases that we’ve seen the last couple days, really reflects exposures that happened right after the stay-at-home order is lifted we have an incubation period seven days or so. said former state health director Will Humble.

Humble says it’s too early to say if this is a trend, but he wouldn’t be surprised to see more cases in the coming weeks, a reflection of scenes from Memorial Day weekend.

Will Humble

"By, say, next Tuesday, we should have a view of what happened because of the behavior on the three-day weekend. We don’t even see that yet," said Humble.

Arizona is also seeing its highest hospital numbers, with ER visits, ICU beds and ventilator use all hitting their highest numbers so far. Put all those numbers together, and it’s not what Arizona wants to see.

"It’s suggesting to me that if the trend holds, we could get back to exponential growth. I don’t know," said Humble.

Currently, one ASU model predicts that if the state does away with social distancing and stay at home behavior, there will be a jump in cases through the summer, and the state should reach herd immunity, or about 60% to 70% of population infected, by around Christmas.

Vaccines, meanwhile, are not expected until some time in 2021.

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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.

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.