July 10, 2020 Covid 19 update

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Arizona continues to be the leader in number of Covid 19 cases per capita for the US. We continue to see on average over 3,000 new cases a day, and this week have had a few days with over 4,000 new cases a day. This is way worse than just back in May when we were seeing 300-400 new cases a day.

The largest growth in number of cases in Arizona continues to be in the 20-44-year-old age group. However, the largest number of deaths remains in the 65 and older age group.

While it is not completely clear why the number of cases has skyrocketed, it is strongly believed the increase is due to people not wearing masks and congregating in groups greater than 10 individuals. Once again, I want to emphasize the largest risk of spreading the virus is when people are close together in a room or other setting. When we talk, sing, cough or sneeze we are spreading bacteria, viruses and other organisms. Right now, the best approach is to try to stay at home as much as possible and to wear a mask if you need to go somewhere.

Hospital admissions have increased dramatically over the last 10 days. On June 30, there were 2,876 patients admitted throughout the state with confirmed or presumed Covid infections. As of yesterday (July 9, 2020), that number was up to 3,432. Likewise, the number of intensive care unit admissions for that same time period is up 30% going from 675 to 876. The hospitals continue to be inundated. Here in Arizona there is a system called the SURGE which allows hospitals to transfer patients to other hospitals in the city, or state, or even neighboring states when they cannot accommodate Covid patients. This system has been needed intermittently over the last several weeks.

Covid 19 is a fascinating and perplexing virus. Along with the typical respiratory symptoms, in some individuals, it is causing blood clotting issues. We are seeing blood clots form in the small blood vessels in the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver amongst other sites, which is leading to organ damage, strokes and deaths. One of the approaches being utilized in severely ill patients is the use of medications to prevent blood clots from forming.

In addition, we are seeing various neurological symptoms occurring with Covid infections, including hallucinations and altered cognitive function. All these complications are believed to be related to the virus binding to ACE2 receptors in various parts of the body. However, once again this observation needs more evidence.

Finally, I want to finish with a joke from Jerry Avenaim, a photographer. “An epidemiologist, an ICU doctor and a scientist all walk into a bar. I’m just kidding, they know better.”

Take care everyone.

Jeff Mayer, MD