Covid19 update Feb 5, 2021
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to fall here in Arizona. A few weeks ago, Arizona led the nation in the per capita rate of infection. Currently, we are now fourth in the nation with our seven-day average of new cases at 4,080 per day and the number of deaths averaging 133 a day.
While this is encouraging news, these numbers remain extremely high, and some experts maintain that the actual number of cases is much higher since many people still do not get tested if they feel ill or may not feel ill at all. Regardless, the virus is still a very real and present danger. Staying at home as much as possible, wearing a KN95 or N95 mask when going out, and staying 6 feet apart from others while out are still the best way to prevent an infection even if you have received a vaccination.
Mutations or variants of the COVID-19 vaccine continue to be identified and remain worrisome. As noted in my last presentation, the British/UK variant is much more infectious and has been identified here in Arizona as well as other states. Thankfully, this variant does appear sensitive to the vaccines currently in use worldwide. However, the current vaccines may not protect as well against variants from South Africa and Brazil, so the race is on to immunize as many people as possible before these variants become more prevalent.
Unfortunately, vaccine supply continues to be limited both here in Arizona and nationwide. Some of this shortage is due to logistics and distribution of the vaccines from the manufacturers yet most of the problem remains not having enough vaccine for everyone at this time.
A good milestone was achieved this week worldwide, with the number of people receiving at least one dose of vaccine (approx. 104.9 million) now higher than the number of people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 (104.1 million). According to the CDC, in the US, 35 million people have been vaccinated versus 26.4 million confirmed cases, and in Arizona almost 574,000 people have received one dose of the vaccine which means to date, just under 8,000 people per 100,000 have gotten a vaccine dose.
Sadly, getting registered for a vaccine here in Arizona remains a major challenge. Even as pharmacies start to become sites for getting a COVID-19 vaccine, they, like the mass administration sites at Banner, TMC, Kino Sports Complex, and the Tucson Convention Center do not have any appointments available for the next several weeks. Similarly, the 24-hour sites in Phoenix are also booked up. Nevertheless, I encourage those of you with computer access to keep trying. Pima County has now opened registration to those aged 70 and up, and in Phoenix and other parts of the state, vaccines are being given to those 65 and older.
For those of you who do not have computer access and have difficulty getting thru on the phone lines, please contact the office to have my staff try to assist you. We have no special influence so be aware we may not be able to accomplish much at this time, yet at least we can try to help those who are not on the internet.
Finally, there are two to three additional vaccines moving closer to availability with the Johnson and Johnson one up for approval this month. If that occurs, then there is a fair chance that by the end of June about two-thirds of the country could be immunized against COVID-19.
Jeff Mayer, MD