Thursday, September 23, 2021 5:35 am

COVID-19 is surging again in Arizona, ASU disease expert says

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By Stephanie Innes and Alison Steinbach | Arizona Republic

Arizona is in another surge of COVID-19, a leading Arizona State University disease expert said Wednesday.

The ongoing major wave of COVID-19 cases in Arizona most likely will look different from the previous surges that the state experienced, said Dr. Joshua LaBaer, executive director of the Biodesign Institute at ASU.

“We are in a surge,” he said. “We can’t say that this surge will behave like all the other surges because there’s just so much different about this one. … All the previous surges that we observed were in a population that was largely unvaccinated.”

Most significantly, there probably will be fewer hospitalizations and fewer deaths than the first two waves of COVID-19 in Arizona because so many people have been vaccinated, he told reporters during a virtual briefing.

Nonetheless, there already are illnesses and deaths occurring as cases and hospitalizations are increasing across the state. The highly contagious delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, which now appears to be the dominant strain of the virus in Arizona, is finding its way into unvaccinated pockets of people across the U.S. and is driving waves of illness in several states, including Florida, Missouri and Alabama.

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