A ‘massive surge’ of omicron cases in Arizona may be slowing down.

By Stephanie Innes | Arizona Republic

A record-setting swell of omicron-fueled COVID-19 cases in Arizona may be slowing down.

Some forecasters predict the state will hit its peak of omicron cases in late January, with hospitalizations continuing to increase into February.

Dr. Joe Gerald’s analysis is slightly more optimistic. A University of Arizona public health researcher, he told The Arizona Republic that he believes Arizona has already hit its peak of new cases and that the omicron surge is on the decline.

“My best guess is they (new cases) likely peaked sometime around last weekend,” Gerald said Friday. “When you look at the number of cases that have been reported on the daily (state) dashboard, for us to still be going up it would have to be posting daily totals in excess of 25,000. … I just don’t see any way that we are continuing to go up with the numbers posted.”

Daily numbers of positive COVID-19 cases in Arizona this month have been setting records, with more people testing positive for COVID-19 in Arizona on Jan. 10 and Jan. 11 than any days previously during the pandemic, according to state data. More than 25,000 individuals tested positive on each of those days.  

Gerald said his only caveat is a possible undercount of positive cases because of testing constraints. But he said he’s still “pretty confident” that Arizona has peaked in terms of new cases.

“Not all counties are going to experience the peak at exactly the same time. Some may get better slower than others, that kind of thing,” Gerald said. “Right now, some of the highest transmission is in Santa Cruz, Coconino and Yuma (counties), whereas some other counties are doing a bit better — Yavapai, Graham, Apache. So there is some geographic variability in what’s going on.”

Dr. Joshua LaBaer, executive director of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, was a little more conservative with his estimate. He said Wednesday that Arizona may be “reaching” its peak of new cases.

“We’re well into the middle of a massive surge here, this omicron surge,” LaBaer said during a briefing. “I don’t think we can say we’re at the peak yet, and for many counties it’s still headed straight up. But overall, perhaps in Maricopa County and some of the more populated counties, it is bending a little bit, suggesting we may be reaching the peak. Whether or not that peak continues for a while, we don’t know yet.”

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