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Social distancing, face masks may be flattening curve of hospitalizations in Az

Social distancing is starting to show signs of flattening the curve on hospitalizations in Maricopa County, and state health officials are urging the public to continue taking all necessary precautions, 12News reported.

There are 1,689 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maricopa County alone, the highest number in any of Arizona’s 15 counties. The pace of confirmed cases appears to be slowing, but experts still expect hospitalizations will peak by the end of April.

As of Thursday, April 9, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 3,018 cases of COVID-19 in the state and 89 deaths. The department said 37,178 tests for COVID-19 have been completed as of Thursday and 34,416 tests were negative.

“What we’re doing with social distancing seems to be working because we’re already starting to see that slope flatten out,” Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, Maricopa County’s medical director for disease control, said in a press conference Wednesday. “The evidence shows that if you pull back (social distancing guidelines) all at once, you might see another peak.”

Joe Gerald, a health services researcher at the University of Arizona, cautioned against loosening social distancing restrictions, telling 12News that “maintaining or increasing our social distancing efforts over the coming weeks should remain our highest priority.”

Arizona health officials recommended last week that Arizonans wear nonmedical face coverings when outside the home to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19.

“What they are finding in the data is that people can be spreading the virus up to two days before they start showing symptoms,” Dr. Cara Christ, the Arizona Department of Health services director, told the Arizona Republic. “So there’s that asymptomatic spread. If you wear a mask when you are out in public, you are less likely to expose others.”

Wearing masks isn’t mandatory, but health officials say they should be worn to protect yourself and those around you. Proper hand washing and social distancing should still be followed even when covering your face, the Republic said.

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Face coverings should only be worn if it is safe to do so, anyone who has trouble breathing or children younger than 2 should not wear a mask, health officials said on Wednesday. N95 and surgical masks should only be worn only on doctor’s orders; otherwise, bandanas and scarves will work.

Using location tracking data, Google and Unacast said Arizona’s grade on social distancing improved to a “B-” on Thursday, up from a “C” earlier this week. The state’s average grade is based on the tracked decreases in people’s general movement and their nonessential visits. The country is currently earning a “C+” on social distancing, according to the tech companies’ analysis.

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Arizona health officials recommended last week that Arizonans wear nonmedical face coverings when outside the home to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19.


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