'This Could Be Another Big One': Experts Predict Third COVID-19 Wave In Arizona
Medical experts say there’s now no question Arizona is seeing an upward trend in COVID-19 infections. Arizona is now averaging more than 1,000 cases per day, more than double what the state was reporting a month ago.
“It’s hard for us in our modeling groups to understand how long this next wave might last or how bad it might get, but it looks like the start of another major or significant wave,” said Dr. Joe Gerald with the University of Arizona's Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
Gerald said new cases in Arizona are on the kind of upward trajectory the state has only seen before the big surges last winter and summer. With about half of the state's population now vaccinated, Gerald doesn’t expect this surge to be as severe as the previous one, but said that’s hard to predict.
“This could be another big one, another one that will lead to hospital crowding and a considerable number of deaths." Gerald said.
Medical experts attribute rising cases nationwide to the delta variant of COVID-19, which is far more contagious than earlier strains. But as delta becomes more dominant in Arizona, experts worry the state is entering a third wave of infections with fewer public health precautions in place than it had previously.
“We’re not using every tool that we have at our disposal, which includes masks in high risk indoor spaces, and the ability to test, isolate and quarantine, which is basic epidemiology," Dr. Shad Marvasti with the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix told KJZZ's "The Show."
Marvasti pointed out Arizona lawmakers have banned mask requirements in most K-12 Arizona schools and vaccine incentives at state universities.
“That really sets us up for failure," Marvasti said.
Arizona’s rate of new cases is now sixth-highest among states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state's vaccination rate remains below the national average.
Gerald said vaccination is still the most important public health measure to slow the spread of the virus and said it should remain a priority for the state as the outbreak worsens.
“It’s really the only way to get us out of this mess and move beyond COVID-19,” Gerald said.