Coconino County sees rise in COVID-19 cases
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The county saw another holiday surge in COVID-19 cases this year, echoing the 2021 season.
However, the 1,458 positive cases reported for the week ending Jan. 1, 2022 , surpassed the record of 1,284 reported from the week of Jan. 9, 2021.
The 1,458 positive cases reported last year was more than double the 662 reported the previous week.
Throughout the fall season the case rate wavered between 300 and 500, with a low of 285 the week of Aug. 27 with the increase beginning Dec. 4.
Critical care beds at Flagstaff Medical Center were at capacity Jan. 9, with all 41 beds occupied. The hospital reported 49 COVID-positive cases, although FMC did not report how many were occupying the ICU beds. Of the 268 total beds at FMC, 207 were filled.
Percent positivity and transmission rate dramatically increased the week of Jan. 1, according to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard.
The transmission rate remains in the high category with 1,031 cases per 100,000 people.
Percent positivity of testing jumped to 25.6 percent, up from 10.9 percent reported the week ending Nov. 27.
The delta variant made up the majority of the COVID-19 cases since July 2020, but the omicron variant has rapidly caught up since its arrival in Coconino County Dec. 16. The latest CCHHS report revealed that omicron made up half of the cases in December.
Of the positive cases in the county, 13.1 percent were reported as vaccine breakthroughs.
Almost half of Williams is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. As of Dec. 5, Williams is reporting 45.4 percent vaccinated. The percent has dropped slightly since the inclusion of children age 5 and older to the data.
Flagstaff is reporting 54 percent vaccinated, Page is 81.5 percent, Grand Canyon is 72 percent and the tribal communities are 67 percent.
Northern Arizona Healthcare, the parent company of Flagstaff Medical Center, continues to limit visitation at its facilities. This includes:
• No general visitation except for special circumstances or End of Life,
• Labor and Delivery – One healthy support person is allowed,
• Pediatric – Both parents or two guardians are allowed,
• Outpatient Surgery - One visitor one time immediately after surgery and must leave the facility following the visit,
• Ambulatory and Outpatient – no visitation except for special circumstances, and
• Visitors are required to wear a mask at all times regardless of vaccine status.
Arizona on Jan. 8 reported 88 deaths from COVD-19, while virus-related hospitalizations continued to climb.
The state also reported 16,504 additional confirmed infections, the most reported in one day in a year, as the spread of the omicron variant resulted in lines of cars on streets near testing sites as drivers awaited their turn to leave specimens.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, Arizona’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases tripled over the past two weeks from 2,945.6 on Dec. 23 to 9,091.6 on Jan. 6.
The state’s rolling average of daily deaths dropped from 60.9 to 55.3 during the same period.
The omicron variant spreads even more easily than other coronavirus strains, and has already become dominant in many countries. It also more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or had previously been infected by prior versions of the virus.
Though early studies show omicron is less likely to cause severe illness and hospitalization than the previous delta variant, hospitals statewide remain crowded.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging that everyone 12 and older get a COVID-19 booster as soon as they’re eligible.
On Jan. 7 the CDC endorsed an extra Pfizer shot for younger teens — those 12 to 15 — and strengthened its recommendation that 16- and 17-year-olds get it, too.
“It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of severe disease,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, said in a statement.
U.S. health officials Dec. 27 cut isolation restrictions for asymptomatic Americans who catch the coronavirus from 10 to five days, and similarly shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine.
CDC officials said the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.
The decision also was driven by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, propelled by the omicron variant.
Early research suggests omicron may cause milder illnesses than earlier versions of the coronavirus. But the sheer number of people becoming infected — and therefore having to isolate or quarantine — threatens to crush the ability of hospitals, airlines and other businesses to stay open, experts say.
Walensky said the country is about to see a lot of omicron cases.
More Coconino County COVID data can be found at coconino.az.gov/2294/COVID-19-Information.
Associate editor Wendy Howell contributed to this story.