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Tue, April 20

Williams COVID-19 cases drop to zero

(Graph/Coconino County)

(Graph/Coconino County)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - The city of Williams is back to no reported incidents of coronavirus this week, after an alarming increase over the winter holiday season.

According to data from Coconino County, Williams has zero reported cases as of March 1, and six in the 86046 zip code.

The city hit its highest number on Jan. 18, with 63 reported cases. The number has steadily dropped since then.

“(I believe it’s due to) herd immunity and vaccination,” said Williams Police Chief Herman Nixon.

Coconino County numbers have also drastically dropped. The county hits its peak of 1,288 cases the week of Jan. 9, and for the week of Feb. 20 reported 215 cases.

Hospitalization rates have also decreased. On the week of Jan. 16, Flagstaff Medical Center reported 64 cases of coronavirus, and the week of Feb. 20 reported 12 cases.

The county is still in the “substantial’ level of community transmission, but percent positivity is back to moderate levels at 8.2 percent and COVID-19-like-illness is also moderate at 5.2 percent.

Coconino County is currently vaccinating people who are in the 1a and 1b categories. Approximately 37,492 Coconino County residents, 25.5 percent of the population, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 630 Williams residents have received at least one dose, and 120 are fully vaccinated.

Close to 28 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, possibly giving them a degree of immunity, and the CDC estimates 78.6 million people have received at least one dose of vaccine and over 26 million are now fully vaccinated.

Even with this progress, infectious disease experts agree it is way too early to call an end to the pandemic. And the question remains whether the nation can stay ahead of the fast-spreading mutations of the virus.

“While the recent decline in cases and hospital admissions are encouraging, they are counterbalanced by the stark reality that in January we recorded the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in any month since the pandemic began,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month about the declining numbers.

Deaths do not move in perfect lockstep up or down with the infection curve. They are a lagging indicator, because it can take a few weeks for people to get sick and die from COVID-19.

Dr. Philip Landrigan, an epidemiologist at Boston College, said vaccines are a factor in the sharp drop in cases but are not the primary cause. Instead, he said, the crisis has become increasingly “depoliticized” in recent weeks as more people come to grips with the threat and how they can help slow the spread of the virus.

“I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of this culture change. I think it’s critically important,” he said.

After a slow start, the vaccination drive that began in mid-December is picking up speed and the process is becoming more efficient.

Arizona has administered over 1.2 million doses of vaccine, with 17 percent of the state’s population vaccinated with the first dose. Approximately 590,000 people are fully vaccinated.

Yavapai County has administered more than 64,459 doses of vaccine to date, with close to 49,000 first doses or 21 percent of the county’s population.

As the COVID-19 patient load is beginning to slow down, Dignity Health-Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott on Feb. 25 announced it is beginning to lifts its ban on non-emergency, elective surgery and visitation at both its Prescott and Prescott Valley campuses.

The restrictions put in place in late November were required due to a spike in COVID-19 patients that pushed the hospital’s capacity in recent months. The slowdown in spread, matched with more and more vaccinations, is starting to be viewed as a means to manage a virus that has proven deadly to half a million people in the nation.

Testing available

Free saliva-based diagnostic COVID-19 testing is now available at Northern Arizona University (NAU) and Coconino County Health and Human Services (CCHHS) and North Country HealthCare. Rapid testing is available at select locations.

Individuals seeking COVID-19 saliva testing are asked to register in advance to expedite the testing process. Information and a link to testing registration is available at www.coconino.az.gov/covid19.

Vaccine availability

Coconino County COVID-19 vaccination sites are currently open to eligible populations in the Phase 1a and Phase 1b groups, not yet to the general public.

Eligible individuals:

Health care workers

Emergency medical services workers

Long-term care facility staff and residents

Education and child care workers

Law enforcement and protective services

Adults age 65 and older

Adults with high risk medical conditions living in shelter or other congregate living settings

Other essential workers: power and utility workers, food and agriculture related occupations, transportation and material moving occupations, state and local government workers providing critical services, business and financial services, supply chain for critical goods, funeral service, critical traders and more.

Phased priority groups are defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Arizona Department of Health Services.

Those seeking a vaccine need to bring proof of occupation such as a paystub, employment badge, a letter from an employer or a driver’s license or ID displaying date of birth to their vaccination site. Those without proper eligibility identification may be turned away.

Locations

Vaccine supplies are limited at this time: appointments are required at vaccination sites and available on a first come first served basis. There is no cost to receive the vaccine. As more vaccine doses become available, additional appointments and locations will be added.

Flagstaff

Appointments are being accepted through Coconino County, Northern Arizona Healthcare and North Country HealthCare.

County officials encourage community members to check its vaccine website or call the COVID-19 Information Line (928-679-7300) frequently for availability. New appointments are typically added at noon on Fridays. Visit coconino.az.gov/2580/COVID-19-Vaccination-Locations for info about Ft. Tuthill location and other venues.

Northern Arizona Healthcare’s Flagstaff Medical Center is offering vaccination appointments online at the NAH website. Every Friday afternoon appointments for the following week are opened for scheduling. Visit nahealth.com/covid-19-resources/covid-19-vaccination-info

North Country HealthCare is offering vaccinations at the Fourth Street clinic in Flagstaff. Individuals can register on the North Country website. Visit northcountryhealthcare.org/covidvaccine1b/

Grand Canyon and Williams

Registration for North Country's Grand Canyon vaccination site can be accessed through the NCHC website. If appointments are unavailable, individuals can submit their phone number to be notified by text when more appointments are available. Visit northcountryhealthcare.org/covidvaccine1b/

Residents can register for a vaccine at Safeway by logging into their website to register. Visit mhealthappointments.com/covidappt

Health officials advise people to regularly check the websites as appointments open up frequently.

For more information on COVID-19 vaccines in Coconino County, visit https://coconino.az.gov/2547/Vaccine-Info

Individuals ages 65 and older and without internet access who require assistance with registration can call the COVID-19 Information Line at (928) 679-7300.

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