How Arizona Stopped Its Epidemic

Posted: Aug 26, 2020 12:23 PM
How Arizona Stopped Its Epidemic

Source: AP Photo/Hans Pennink

Arizona's situation with the coronavirus has continued to improve dramatically over the last four weeks. Arizona's rate of new infections has greatly slowed while deaths attributed to the coronavirus has begun falling rapidly.

These improvements can be seen in a trifecta of charts showing key trends in the daily progression of coronavirus infections in Arizona from 10 March 2020 through 25 August 2020. The first chart presents the state's daily progression tower chart that communicates the overall trends in the amount of testing, the incidence of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, the number of hospitalized Arizonans and also the number of deaths in the state. The second chart shows the trend for the state's test positivity rate, which dropped below the 5% threshold in recent days, and the third chart shows the number of cases and deaths reported in the state each day. (Click here to see a full-size version of Arizona's trifecta of COVID-19 charts!)

To see the chart, click here.

We've been following the progression of COVID-19 in Arizona since the state became an epicenter for COVID-19, rivaling the state of New York for its share of population affected as it experienced a delayed first wave of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infections. While Arizona has seen a similar share of its population affected by COVID-19 infections, the state has been much more successful in limiting the number of associated deaths.

See for yourself in this chart!

Even though Arizona experienced a similar number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents as New York, it experienced a much lower rate of deaths, as the state did a much better job in protecting nursing home and long term care facility residents from exposure to coronavirus infections.

Arizona is experiencing a rapid reduction in the number of newly reported cases, thanks largely to the expansion of testing capacity at the labs conducting the vast majority of coronavirus testing in the state. That capacity came on line in early August, contributing to a plunge in newly reported confirmed cases as a large backlog was cleared. The effects of that expanded test capacity can be seen in a chart showing the daily number of newly reported confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona.

More significantly, Arizona is also seeing a rapid reduction in its number of deaths attributed to COVID-19. That reduction is confirmed a chart revealing the daily number of COVID-19 deaths in Arizona.

This chart confirms the effects of two actions taken by the state in responding to its surge in coronavirus cases and deaths in June 2020. Arizona turned the first corner to beating the spread of the coronavirus in the period corresponding to when a change might be expected to be seen following Governor Ducey's executive order allowing county officials to require masks be worn inside public venues. This action appears to have contributed to halting the upward trend in deaths that had been underway since Arizona lifted its statewide lockdown order in mid-May 2020, which accelerated in June thanks to the anti-police protests that occurred in the state from 28 May 2020 through 15 June 2020.

More significantly, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey's 29 June 2020 order to close public venues associated with a high risk of spreading coronavirus infections such as gyms, bars, movie theaters, and water parks appears to have contributed to the reduction in deaths that begins in the period that would be expected following that order. The governor later extended the order to continue into mid-August.

Governor Ducey also acted on 9 July 2020 to restrict Arizona restaurants to serving 50% of their dining capacity, but that action doesn't appear to have been as impactful as the governor's 29 June 2020 order.

The following table summarizes the major events indicated in these charts.