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Arizona in 'public health crisis,' UArizona researchers say

A lead member of the University of Arizona’s COVID-19 modeling team warned that the pandemic will soon result in a “humanitarian crisis."

PHOENIX — While COVID-19 vaccinations are going to be available sooner than later, our fight isn’t over yet. A team out of the University of Arizona has been making weekly pandemic protections. 

“It doesn't take a public health scientist to recognize that conditions in Arizona are grim and only growing worse," Dr. Joe Gerald said.

Gerald, a lead member of the University of Arizona’s COVID-19 modeling team, said the pandemic is going to cause a "major humanitarian crisis" during the Christmas and New Years' holidays.

“We’re pulling down about 50,000 new cases a week, hospitals and ICUs are greater than 90% occupancy, and about 500 people are dying a week," he said. 

Credit: 12 News

That is just here in Arizona. At this rate, Gerald said we could be 80,000 cases per week by January. 

The most recent report of the COVID-19 Disease Outbreak Outlook, released Saturday, said that only shelter-in-place restrictions would quickly stop the spread of the virus.

Many COVID-19 metrics saw new records this past week as well, including a 26% test positivity, 4,014 general ward beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and 44,390 new cases in a single week.

Credit: 12 News

"We need Arizonans to do two things, and they’re actually pretty straight forward: Stay away from each other and when you can’t do that, consistently wear a mask," Gerald said. 

The doctor said his models are based on “basic perimeters.” 

“How quickly it spreads, how likely it leads to hospitalizations and deaths. And then we think about how many people have already been infected and how many people remain susceptible to the virus,” he explained.  

Finally, while COVID-19 vaccines are starting to be administered, Gerald believes they will not significantly curb confirmed coronavirus cases anytime soon. 

You can read the entire COVID-19 Disease Outbreak Outlook here.