Percentage of Positivity Rises to High, COVID-19 Cases Rise in Coconino County | Local
ABIGAIL KESSLER Journalist Sun
COVID-19 measures are increasing again in Coconino County this week, according to a dashboard data report released on Friday, as the percentage of positivity and rates of cases have increased during the week and are at a low high transmission.
A total of 543 new cases were reported in the county this week, surpassing the 514 reported for the same week last year. The case rate is now 383.8 cases per 100,000 people. After moving to the moderate category last week (to 7.6%), the percentage of positivity jumped to 10.3%, two levels of transmission higher.
The incidence of COVID-like illnesses in county hospitals declined slightly this week while remaining in the moderate category (from 8% last week to 6.9%). The majority of hospitalized patients are over 55 years old. One COVID-related death has been reported for the week.
Kim Musselman, director of Coconino County Health and Human Services (CCHHS), said the increase was due to a number of factors, including unvaccinated individuals, the delta variant, decreasing resistance of those vaccinated more than six months as well as fatigue leading to less caution about mitigation measures.
“It’s a combination of all of those things, I think, that are contributing to our increase in numbers, especially as we get ready for the holidays,” she said. “[We’re] certainly concerned that this may continue to increase and [will] let’s do everything we can to try to keep this under control. “
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The highest number of cases recorded in the county so far was 1,284 the week of January 9.
“We really hope we can contain and maintain, and not see these huge, big spikes that we saw in January and December of last year,” Musselman said.
The highest case rates for the week ending November 13 were in the age groups under 44 (residents 20 to 44 had a case rate of 435 per 100,000 and those under 20-year-olds had a rate of 434 per 100,000), while the percentage of positivity was highest (13.3%) among county residents aged 45 to 54.
Flagstaff’s K-12 schools reported slightly lower readings than the county as a whole. Charter schools had a moderate level of percent positivity (from 6.1% last week to 7.6%), while Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD) was in a substantial range (from 6.2% at 8 %). Both had case rates in the high transmission category – which were also lower than those seen across the county (306 cases per 100,000 for charter schools and 322 per 100,000 for FUSD).
The FUSD reported 49 new cases this week, fewer than in recent weeks (57 last week and 64 the previous two). Most were at Thomas Elementary, which had 12 cases, double the number in schools with the next highest number of cases (Mount Elden Middle School and Coconino High School each had six cases for the week).
The district has reported 611 cases since the start of the school year.
Northern Arizona University also reported an increase in the percentage of positivity in tests performed on its campus. Of 3,084 tests performed last week, 6.2% came back positive. Last week’s rate was 4.6%. Most of the positive tests were in people not affiliated with the NAU (114, compared to 76 positive tests affiliated with the NAU).
The university is handling 72 cases among its students, according to an update released Wednesday.
NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera urged people to get tested for COVID-19 and receive reminders, if eligible, before the holiday celebrations.
“As we plan to reunite and travel with our loved ones this holiday season, it is important to do so safely,” he wrote in an update Thursday. “I know we are all tired of what looks like an endless pandemic, but staying alert and taking extra precautions is essential to ensure the health of your family and friends. “
A list of testing and vaccine sites in the county is available at coconino.az.gov/2294/COVID-19-Information.