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Posted on: December 3, 2021

COVID-19 Work Session Update: Hospitals Overwhelmed, Rising Cases, New Variant

County COVID-19 Update (Banner (Landscape))

As we continue into the third surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cochise County Public Health Department encourages citizens to protect themselves, their families, and communities by implementing and continuing the recommended safety precautions. 

During today’s COVID-19 Work-Session, Cochise Health & Social Services (CHSS) provided the Board of Supervisors and the public with the most recent data detailing the current COVID-19 situation within our County. 

Below are the takeaways Cochise County community members must know: 

1. Local hospitals are reaching capacity and crisis standards of care. 

Last week, Copper Queen Hospital reached a crisis standard of care, meaning they reached internal capacity, could not take on new patients and were unable to transfer outpatients needing higher levels of care. Northern Cochise Hospital went on ED diversion, meaning they were overloaded to the point where they could not accept new patients. All Cochise County hospitals are facing the same difficulties with patient care due to limited capacity and resources. A large portion of hospitals’ capacities are being taken up by COVID-19 patients. Because of that, non-covid patients are negatively impacted and are experiencing delays in being transferred out to larger hospitals for higher critical levels of care. Cochise County Emergency Services Department has jumped in to help the hospitals in requesting additional resources from the State. 

Residents can help alleviate the burden on hospitals in various ways. If you’ve been exposed to or experience symptoms, get tested as soon as possible and ask your doctor about receiving treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies, to recover at home and avoid going to the hospital. It’s important to note that these antibodies are treatments and do not equal protection against the virus. Residents can also ensure they are fully vaccinated and boosted (if eligible), as the vaccines are a preventative tool help reduce severe illness and death caused by COVID-19. 

Additionally, during the meeting, County Supervisor and Chairman, Ann English encouraged residents to get routine medical checkups and seek medical care at the first sign of illness, to avoid getting to the point of needing critical care. 

2. Boosters increase your protection and immunity against COVID-19.

As proven by studies, the COVID-19 vaccine minimizes the chances of severe illness or death. Booster shots are now widely available to everyone ages 18 and older. If you received a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, you are eligible to get a booster shot, but only after 6 months of receiving your last dose. If you received the Janssen (J&J) one-dose vaccine, you may get a booster just two months after vaccination. If you are unsure whether you are eligible for a booster, CHSS recommends asking your primary doctor. Local healthcare providers and pharmacies offer the booster vaccine at no cost, throughout many locations within the County. Find a provider near you.  

3. COVID-19 cases are increasing within our County and residents should remain vigilant. 

A new variant of the virus named Omicron was detected in the U.S. on December 1, 2021, and is noted to spread more easily than past variants, including the Delta variant. Due to the variant’s recent arrival, the severity of illness and death associated with this variant is yet to be determined. 

CHSS’s lead Epidemiologist presented the statistics and charts below to show the current situation and trends within Cochise County. She noted, “unfortunately the data is not showing a decrease or leveling-off within the near future.”

COVID-19 case data as of December 1, 2021:

  • Confirmed cases: 18,114, including 2,112 new cases since Nov. 2. 
  • Hospitalizations: 1,031, including 138 new hospitalizations since Nov. 2. 
  • Confirmed deaths: 392, including 47 new death confirmations since Nov. 2. 
  • Vaccines administered: 149,326, an increase of 15,718 since Nov.2
  • School-related cases since the start of the semester (Aug. 8, 2021): 1,131, including 389 new cases (34% increase) since Nov. 2.

You may regularly check the most up-to-date COVID-19 case numbers by visiting the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) COVID-19 Dashboard at https://azdhs.gov/covid19/data/index.php.

CHSS’s Epidemiologist shared, breakthrough infections within people who are fully vaccinated are expected, but vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. 

Breakthrough case data as of November 29, 2021:

  • Confirmed cases: 932 adult cases and 40 children (17 and under)
  • Hospitalizations: 31 adults and 0 children 
  • Deaths: 6 adult deaths and 0 children

 The chart below indicates breakthrough cases among all confirmed cases and shows a spike in breakthrough cases since the appearance of the Delta variant. 

 

The second chart (shown below) displays past and present surges of COVID-19 and indicates cases increasing with no sign of slowing down as we move into the winter. 

 

“When you hear that within the last month, 47 people have died within Cochise County, that’s traumatic as far as I’m concerned!” said Chairman Ann English. “That’s something that is not normal and something we should all be upset about,” English added. “Those 47 people are your friends and neighbors; they may not be your immediate family, but 47 is bound to impact all the communities of Cochise County and it’s something we should all be concerned about.”

To view the full video recording of the COVID-19 Work Session, please visit the Board of Supervisors Agendas & Minutes site

For assistance regarding COVID-19 tests, vaccines, and safety recommendations, contact the Cochise Health and Social Services department via email at Vaccine@cochise.az.gov and Publichealth@cochise.az.gov or by calling 520-432-9400, Monday-Friday 8 am to 5 pm. 

Stay informed on the latest COVID-19 updates by visiting the Cochise County website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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