PHOENIX — It's been two weeks since Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ended the state's two-year emergency declaration citing low cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
The state's journey throughout the Covid-19 pandemic has been full of peaks and valleys. At several points, Arizona was the global epicenter of the virus.
Today, that has certainly changed for the better.
“Overall, I think we’re in pretty good shape," said Arizona State University BioDesign Executive Director, Dr. Joshua LaBaer. Dr. LaBaer's team has been tracking the virus since its infancy in the state.
“Right now the numbers in the state are very low and they are trending either flat or slightly down," said Dr. LaBaer. "We are at probably some of the fewest number of cases in the hospital that we have seen in a very long time.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, Arizona is still among the states with a higher 7-day case average. The highly contagious BA.2 Omicron subvariant now accounts for 72% of new cases.
“Even though the numbers are higher than other places, they are still pretty low. I think the numbers that matter to me the most are how many people are in the hospitals," said Dr. LaBaer.
But after Governor Ducey ended the state's emergency declaration, hospitals were no longer required to share Covid-19 surveillance with the state. That change eliminated data specific to current Covid-19 patients in Arizona hospitals which changed the information provided on the state's dashboard.
Dr. LaBaer said that creates a greater challenge for universities and researchers to track the virus, especially if there is another extreme wave of cases.
“If things were to start ticking up here we wouldn’t catch it as early and that would impact us certainly so it’d be nice to have that information if we could get it," said Dr. LaBaer.
A spokesperson from the state tells 12 News:
"Our current Covid-19 data-sharing agreement with universities was tied to the emergency declaration. With the declaration ended, we are amending the agreement so we can resume sharing Covid-19 data with universities."
“Certainly I think if things were getting worse, you’d be hearing from the hospitals about that," said Dr. LaBaer.
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