Gov. Doug Ducey had stern warnings at recent press conferences, pleading with people to stay home when possible and wear masks when in public.
“The virus is everywhere,” he said.
That was particularly true in a few Glendale ZIP codes.
Glendale 85301 had 1,533 COVID-19 cases July 7, making it one of the highest concentrations in the state. It has an estimated population of 60,000.
Glendale 85303 was only slightly better, with 872 cases—but with about half the population of 85301.
By contrast, Peoria cases have leveled. Peoria 85381 had 370 cases, with 511 cases in Peoria 85382—which had one of the highest totals in the state when figures were first released in April.
Glendale’s southern neighbors in Maryvale and West Phoenix also had outbreaks.
ZIP 85037 had 1,365 cases, with 1,634 in Maryvale 85035 and 1,798 in 85033.
The data is according to the Arizona State Department of Health Services COVID-19 cases by ZIP code map.
West of Glendale, Waddell/Litchfield Park 85340 had a relatively small 382 cases, with 488 in neighboring 85395 and 442 cases in 85305.
To the north, Peoria-Glendale-Sun City 85345 had 986 cases, with 807 in Glendale 85302 and a relatively small 364 in 85304.
Ducey said not to expect a rapid improvement: “Cases and hospitalizations will be worse next week and the following week.”
The governor ordered bars, gyms, movie theaters, waterparks and tubing rentals “must pause operations.”
He pleaded: “Stay home if you can.”
Weiers was listening, and quickly canceled the fireworks show—which was actually planned as a replacement for the Westgate Entertainment District show, which earlier was canceled.
Hope for ‘cultural shift’
The number of COVID-19 cases in the West Valley, county and state leaping dramatically in the last few weeks—before a holiday weekend that local and national health experts worry will exacerbate the problem—has some wondering if anything can be done to stop the coronavirus spread.
One simple thing will do the trick, says a Phoenix emergency room doctor: Wear a mask.
“Masks dramatically decrease the transmission of COVID-19,” said Dr. Murtaza Akhter.
A clinical assistant professor in emergency medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, Akhter did a research fellowship in 2015 in Neurological Emergencies at Harvard Medical School.
He said he is confident masks can reduce the spread of coronavirus by up to 80%. “If you came up with a medicine that decreased transmission by 80%, you’d win the Nobel Prize,” he said.
Akhter said the number of patients he is seeing at Valleywise Health in Phoenix with COVID-19 is accelerating.
“In the Phoenix area, hospitals for the last few months have seen a dramatic increase in patients coming in (with COVID-19),” he said.
ICU beds in use in the state went above 90% for the first time July 3, rising from the 86-89% range over the last week to 91%. Inpatient bed capacity remained 85%. In the county, 3,204 new COVID-19 positive tests were reported, with 24 more deaths from coronavirus, bringing county deaths from the disease to 825.
In the last week, 17,981 positive COVID-19 tests were reported by Maricopa County, 71% of the state’s 25,400 new cases. The county has averaged 2,500 new COVID-19 cases per day over the last week.
“It’s going to get worse,” Ducey recently warned—and Akhter agrees.
“I do think it’s going to get worse based on what I’m seeing on the ground. It seems to match up with what the data are suggesting—that it’s really bad,” he said.
While Akhter sees patients in the emergency room with COVID-19 who have a variety of symptoms, “What you’re most concerned about is how well this person is breathing. People are struggling to breathe,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s severe enough that we need a big machine (ventilator), which is risky. We have to intubate them and have a breathing machine breathe for them.”
While by far the highest number of deaths have been in the 65-and-older group, Akhter noted, “Younger and healthier patients can also get very sick and be in the hospital for long lengths of stay” from COVID-19.
Akhter said he understands people have been reluctant to wear masks but is confident that will change.
“With smoking in public, we had a cultural shift on that and then it was better,” he said. “I’m hoping we have a cultural shift on masks.”