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Coconino County continues start of 2022 with another record week for COVID

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Drinking Responsibly

Nina Fitchett serves a cold one to a customer on the patio at Flagstaff Brewing Company in this March 2021 file photo.

After setting a record last week, Coconino County’s COVID-19 cases more than doubled in the first week of 2022.

According to its dashboard data report, the county reported 3,085 new cases for the week ending Jan. 8. The county’s case rate for the week was 2,180.4 per 100,000, up from the previous week’s rate of 1,025.5 per 100,000 -- at a total of 1,451 cases. Both weeks were significantly higher than the 100 per 100,000 threshold for high transmission.

Testing also doubled in the county this week, with a total of 12,033 tests conducted (the previous week’s total was 6,562). The positivity rate is nearly three times the high transmission threshold (10%), with 29.9% of tests returning positive results. The previous week’s yield was 25.2%

Chart from COVID dashboard for Jan. 14 showing case rates in Coconino County.

The report listed residents between the ages of 20 and 44 as having the highest case incidence (3,261 per 100,000) and positivity (31.9%) for the week, followed by those younger than the age of 20 (a positivity rate of 31.8%). The median age of COVID cases in the county is 29 years old, according to the report.

The incidence of COVID-like illness (CLI) continued to rise in county hospitals this week, rising to 19% from 14.9% the week before. A total of 37 patients were hospitalized with COVID, up from 21. COVID deaths among county residents have been falling, however, with only one reported for the week -- the previous week had four.

Flagstaff was the location with the highest case incidence for the week, 2553.9 per 100,000. Slightly over half (54.2%, or 49,085 individuals) of the city’s population had been vaccinated at the time of the report.

Across the county, 52.7% of the eligible population had been fully vaccinated as of Jan. 8, or 76,817 individuals. Of those, 36% have received a booster dose (27,648). Boosters continued to make up the majority of doses administered in the county this week.

After accounting for about half of county variants in December, omicron makes up well over 90% of variants identified in January so far. The dashboard data report lists 445 identified omicron cases as of Jan. 8.

This is also true across the state, with TGen’s COVID-19 sequencing dashboard reporting 1,594 in January so far, 96.78% of genomes sequenced. Coconino County has the second-highest omicron rate in the state after Maricopa County.

In addition to its monthly variant trends report, TGen’s dashboard has added an omicron tracker that measures the percentage of variants sequenced on a weekly basis. This tracker shows omicron growing in prevalence since its first appearance in Arizona the week ending Dec. 11, becoming the most common variant the week ending Jan. 1.

The variant’s percentage continues to grow, accounting for 95.68% of variants (753 genomes) statewide for the week ending Jan. 8. The state had reported a total of 2,394 omicron genomes as of Jan. 14.

COVID Vaccination Among Young Children , Stalls in the United States. NBC News reports pediatricians in the United States are alarmed at the slow pace in which young children are receiving a coronavirus vaccine. As the Omicron variant spreads like wildfire, the country has hit new highs of COVID-related pediatric hospitalizations. In the two months after Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine received authorization to be administered to children aged 5 to 11, merely 27% have received at least one dose. Per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 18% of them have received two. Health officials say the vaccination rates among children have differed by region in the United States. Recent analysis shows almost 50% of 5- to 11-year-olds in Vermont are fully vaccinated. According to NBC News, less than 10% of 5- to 11-year-olds have received two doses in nine Southern states. You have these large swaths of vulnerable children who are going to school. , Dr. Samir Shah, director of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, via NBC News. Experts say they fear states with lower vaccination rates "are less likely to require masking or distancing...”. One of the problems we’ve had is this perception that kids aren’t at risk for serious illness from this virus. , Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases, via NBC News. That’s obviously not true. , Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases, via NBC News

Flagstaff schools reported similarly high rates of transmission for the week, with a case rate of 2,599 per 100,000 for both Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD) and Flagstaff charter schools (the week ending Jan. 1, FUSD’s case rate was 1,140 and charter schools were at 1,135. Percent positivity was also similar -- 29.8% for charter schools (from 25.9%) and 29.9% for FUSD (from 26%).

FUSD reported a total of 318 cases for the week ending Jan. 8, the most so far in the 2021-2022 school year. All district sites reported cases, with the highest rates being at Flagstaff High School (64), Coconino High School (49) and Marshall Elementary (28). Only four of its 16 sites reported fewer than 10 cases for the week.

Six cases were athletic-related, though the report noted this may be lower than the actual total as, “due to the high volume of cases, the FUSD COVID-19 Support Team was unable to identify all of the positive student cases that were also athletes.”

The district’s total of COVID cases for the school year to date is now 1,343.

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