With Arizona’s health care system at a breaking point, experts plead for vaccinations, mask use and distancing

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By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

As the omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread like wildfire in Arizona and shatter previous records in the pandemic, health experts are pleading with people to vaccinate, mask up and socially distance themselves. 

“You eat a heart healthy diet, you improve your chances of not dying from heart disease by 10 to 15%. The vaccine improves your chances of not dying from COVID by 3,000%,” Dr. Joshua LaBaer, executive director of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, said Wednesday. 

On Wednesday the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 18,783 new cases of COVID, the highest single day reporting of cases during the entire pandemic, breaking the previous record set Jan. 3, 2021, when there were 17,234 new cases. 

Testing is reaching an all time high, as well, with Embry Health reporting more than 48,000 appointments for COVID-19 testing booked in a single day, a record for the agency. 

Arizona has been seeing a steep rise in cases, with an increase in the daily number of cases reported of more than 350% in the roughly two and a half weeks since Christmas. 

“That is the steepest rate of rise we have seen since this all began,” LaBaer said about the rapid pace in which positive COVID-19 tests have been coming back. LaBaer’s larger concern is what is on the horizon for Arizona’s already taxed and scattered health care system. 

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