FLORENCE — Although a national news website called Pinal the state’s COVID “hot spot,” the county public health director disagreed with that conclusion and said local trends are more encouraging.
“Certainly we can look at all the counties, and clearly see case rates with high transmission, and definitely Pinal County is not the hot spot in Arizona,” Tascha Spears said Tuesday in an interview with PinalCentral.
Daily cases in Pinal are slowly decreasing, she said. The highest daily count this month was Aug. 15 with 372 cases, and it has been on the decline since then.
“We still haven’t hit under 100, but we are slowly coming down from that on a daily basis. And thank goodness we still haven’t hit in excess of 800 per day like we did in January,” Spears said.
Meanwhile, local residents continue to get their jabs. Just over 40% of Pinal residents have been fully vaccinated and 47.6% have had at least one dose. The state reported 651 shots in Pinal on Tuesday.
“So we’re moving toward that 50% mark,” Spears said. “Similar to other places, and similar to how pandemics behave, we see resurgence of cases at times, and we’re seeing an acceleration phase right now. As we get new variants, we’re going to see those kinds of changes up and down in confirmed cases of COVID,” Spears said.
In calling Pinal County “the worst hot spot in Arizona,” the news website 24/7 Wall Street noted an average of 48.5 new confirmed cases per day per 100,000 residents in the week ending Aug. 17 — the highest rate of any county in Arizona. Since the pandemic began, the county has reported 59,324 confirmed cases, or 14,134.2 cases per 100,000. There have been 930 deaths, or 221.6 deaths per 100,000 residents, the website said.
Most positive cases in Pinal County are occurring in the 20 to 44 age group, followed by the 0 to 19 age group, Spears said. The service most people want these days is testing, “because when cases go up, and people are feeling sick, they want to go get tested.”
“We’re seeing more testing happening, and thank goodness, many of the local pharmacies now have take-home self-tests … which I think is going to help. Because the more quickly one identifies if one is sick with COVID, the person can isolate at home,” and the people they’ve potentially exposed can watch for symptoms and be tested, Spears said.
She said she’s optimistic for Pinal County being awarded a grant to make more testing widely available.