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Wed, June 23

Break in summer COVID-19 numbers hasn’t materialized

Northern Arizona Healthcare’s leadership team talks about the surge in COVID-19 positives. VVN/Bill Helm

Northern Arizona Healthcare’s leadership team talks about the surge in COVID-19 positives. VVN/Bill Helm

COTTONWOOD — The CEO of the largest healthcare organization in the area couldn’t say Wednesday whether Arizona’s recent COVID-19 surge is a second wave or a continuation of the first wave.

“I think waves, surges are irrelevant as we describe the progression,” Northern Arizona Healthcare’s Flo Spyrow said during a July 1 media briefing held by organizational leadership. “COVID-19 is extremely dangerous and easy to pass on. We cannot rule out the potential that this virus will morph.”

Spyrow said what matters most is to practice preventative measures such as wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, washing your hands.

“The more that communities don’t enforce it, the more people don’t do it, the more we will see it spread,” Spyrow said.

Although some COVID-19 positive patients exhibit symptoms such as an inability to taste their food, it’s fever, cough and shortness of breath that are still most common, said John Mougin, NAH chief quality officer.

Wednesday, Arizona Department of Health Services reported new single-day highs in COVID-19 patients (4,878) and deaths (88) in the past 24 hours.

“We anticipated a significant break in the summer and it hasn’t come to fruition,” Spyrow said.

As of 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, Verde Valley Medical Center in Cottonwood had 19 COVID-19-positive patients, a number that has increased exponentially in successive days, according to Ron Haase, VVMC chief administrative officer.

“Over fourth of July weekend, we expect a lot of visitors in Sedona,” Haase said. “And a lot of great unknowns.”

What is known, according to Chief Medical Officer Leon Pontikes, is the majority of Northern Arizona Healthcare’s COVID-19 patients have been people age 65 and older.

“Doesn’t mean we haven’t seen very many people in their 20s and 30s,” Pontikes said. “Still, 65 represents most of our admissions.”

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @AZShutterbug42

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