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Q&A: What’s going on with Arizona’s COVID numbers?

Two public health expert gave news conferences on the COVID-19 numbers. We asked about trends and what it means.

PHOENIX — One month ago, Arizona was a COVID-19 hotspot and made national headlines. 

On Wednesday, the number of newly reported cases was below 1,000, and the positivity and hospitalization rates continued to decline. 

12 News asked questions to officials from both ASU and the county about trends and how the state has changed. 

Q: Cases are down and so are the number of tests. Can we trust that the number of infections is really going down?

A: According to both public health officials, yes. The reason is that other numbers like the positivity rate and hospitalization numbers. "Most people who get tested are people with symptoms," Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine said. She continued with less community spread, there are fewer people showing symptoms and fewer people going to get tested. This coupled with a decrease in the number of people going to the hospital with the disease and the positivity rate shows that the number of cases really is decreasing. 

Q: Have we passed "The Peak" for the virus?

A: Yes and no. Dr. Joshua LeBaer Executive Director of ASU's Biodesign Institute seemed to reject the idea of a peak. Dr. Sunenshine said Arizona has passed the peak of "this wave" which occurred in late June, early July. Both warned that another rise in cases could come if precautions are not followed. 

Q: Are these numbers good? 

A: “Our numbers now, our daily numbers of new cases, are close to where they were at the end of May,” Dr. LeBaer said. The numbers are trending in the right direction. However, he said there is still a ways to go. Don't confuse good news with the virus going away. LeBaer said the virus is likely here to stay. 

Q: Is it time for businesses to reopen? 

A: As of Tuesday, more than 600 businesses were applying to reopen with the state. "The key is really going to be about what the risk for the business individually and what the plan is to mitigate those risks," LeBaer said. He continued that if the residents of Arizona go back to high-risk activities such as going out without masks or attending events with a lot of people, the numbers will go back up. 

Maricopa County coronavirus news conference

Maricopa County officials discuss the rental assistance program and local public health COVID-19 data. UPDATES: https://www.12news.com/coronavirus

Posted by 12 News on Wednesday, August 19, 2020