In a recent New York Times article projecting areas in which COVID-19 could “flare up next,” Yuma ranks No. 2 for the nation’s potential hot spots, reportedly marked by an 8% average daily growth rate and a doubling of cases every 9.2 days.
Recent testing blitzes are not solely responsible for the increase in cases, Yuma County officials reported Thursday in a press release; contact tracing, symptom reporting and confirmation of 96 new cases on Friday indicate community spread of the virus.
“For a number of weeks, well over a month, we have been telling Yuma County residents that there is community spread,” said Yuma County Communications Director Kevin Tunell. “Once we detected community spread, we knew that people really needed to buckle down and work on these guidelines that seem like such a nuisance — covering your face, washing your hands, socially separating.”
According to Tunell, based on models the county has consulted with, cases are expected to peak during the last week of May or first week of June.
“That’s where we’re at right now, we’re starting to enter the last week of May and go into the first week of June,” Tunell said. “And at some point during that time, which is the next two weeks, we are hoping that the peak occurs and we start going down the other side, much like many other areas in the country.”
Given Friday’s jump in cases, individuals are encouraged to take public health officials’ guidelines seriously, especially this weekend.
“That should really be telling everybody at home, ‘Maybe we should still be socially separating, maybe we should still be very careful when we’re out and about, maybe we should wear face coverings like they’re saying, maybe we should be washing our hands,’” Tunell said. “This is a weekend that’s typically riddled with large gatherings, large parties, large barbecues — it’s kind of a tradition, this rite of passage into the summer. And we encourage everyone to enjoy themselves but to socially separate this weekend, it couldn’t be any more obvious that people need to take heed.”
Without taking heed as Tunell suggested, particularly in anticipation of the peak, there’s no way to ensure the county will experience a timely flattening of the curve.
“Everybody wants to get back to some sense of normalcy, but right now, during this marathon event, this is not the time to be lackadaisical,” Tunell said. “This is the time, where we are going into a period in the next two weeks when we expect to peak, where we don’t want to go back in the other direction and have to go back into a stay-at-home order, that the best that I can muster to talk to the public about is to continue moving forward with taking care of each other.”
Individuals are still encouraged to go to the grocery store for their essential items; however, it’s recommended that families refrain from going together and, instead, send one person to pick up the week’s groceries and return home.
Additionally, public health officials continue to encourage frequent handwashing with soap and water, thorough and regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, maintaining a six-foot social distance from others and wearing masks or facial coverings in public at all times. Individuals are also advised to avoid social gatherings of 10 or more people and to contact their healthcare provider immediately if sick or symptomatic.
Daily updates on Yuma County’s cases, demographics, hospitalizations and mortality rates are accessible on the Yuma County Public Health Services District website, yumacountyaz.gov/government/health-district, as well as facebook.com/yumacountyaz/ and twitter.com/yumacountyaz.