By Stephanie Innes and Melina Walling | Arizona Republic
If you’ve recently tested positive for COVID-19, you are not alone. Cases in Arizona are rising, including reinfections and infections in people who are vaccinated and boosted.
While health providers and public health officials say the increasing case numbers are not a reason to panic, it’s also not a time to be nonchalant, they say.
Among reasons for caution: the number of reported cases is likely a significant undercount and anyone who is infected, regardless of vaccination status or prior infection, and remains at risk for Long COVID. Elderly people and individuals with weakened immune systems remain most at risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, experts say.
“My concern is that everybody thinks things have returned to normal. They are clearly better, but we can’t really go back to where we were before yet,” Dr. Robert Orenstein, chair for infectious disease at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, said June 1 after the state released its weekly COVID-19 data.
“The state reported 19% positivity this week and that is up quite a bit because before, we were in this lull, around 5%. That’s taken a pretty big jump, even with all the caveats of testing,” he said.
State officials on June 1 reported a high 13,042 new COVID-19 cases over the weeklong period ending May 28, which is the highest case report since Arizona switched to weekly updates at the start of March.
“There’s a considerable amount of virus around and so if you are out in public, particularly indoors in close and crowded spaces and you are not wearing your own mask and no one else is, the transmission risk is pretty high,” said Dr. Joe Gerald, an associate professor of public health policy at the University of Arizona’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.