Coronavirus surges in Arizona, Utah

Cases of coronavirus are spiking in some states since restrictions on businesses and gatherings have been loosened. In the Four Corners, Arizona and Utah are showing numbers that cause concern, while New Mexico is seeing increases that are somewhat troubling. Colorado seems to have stabilized, however, and the Navajo Nation is flattening the curve, according to its president.

Montezuma County is up to 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. As of May 25 it was at 36 cases, meaning it rose 67 percent in 2 ½ weeks. It is still not a huge number, however, and the number of active cases is only 10, according to the county’s health department. There are still two deaths attributed to the virus in the county.

The county offered free testing one day in June and saw a small jump in numbers after that.

The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe was at just nine confirmed cases at last report, even after an aggressive effort wound up testing at least half the tribe’s members.

Around the Western Slope, Montrose County was at 191 cases and 12 fatalities as of Friday, June 12, Gunnison at 181 and six, La Plata 84 and one,  San Miguel 23, Archuleta eight, and San Juan County a single case.

The state had 28,822 confirmed cases, up by 175 from the previous day. The number of deaths attributed to the virus was 1,348. The Denver Post reported that hospitalizations were at 167 statewide, down by one person from the previous day.

The Navajo Nation was at a total of 6,470 cases and 303 deaths. It is seeing “a steady flattening of the curve,” the Navajo Times quoted President Jonathan Nez as saying. The nation has stopped having weekend-long curfews.

However, the news was less encouraging in other places around the Four Corners.

The state of Arizona saw a record high in its number of new cases on Friday, with 1,654, according to the Arizona Republic. And hospitalizations for patients either confirmed or believed to have the virus have also shot up, hitting 1,336 on Thursday, the Republic said.

Eighty percent of Arizona’s hospital ICU beds are now occupied, according to various published reports.

The cause for the increase in Arizona is not believed to be simply more tests being done. NPR reported on Thursday that the percentage of positive results among Arizonans being tested has more than doubled.

The number of fatalities in the state hit 1,144 on Friday, up by 17 from the day before.

Utah is also seeing sharp increases in cases. On Friday, there were 325 new cases, reaching a total of 13,577, and eight more fatalities in the state.  The Salt Lake Tribune reported that it was the 16th day in a row that has seen a case increase of more than 200, while such increases had not occurred previously since the beginning of the pandemic except for a single day.

Utah’s deaths from the virus are up to 139, most of them among the elderly. However, on Tuesday a college student died at the age of 27, becoming the second youngest citizen in the state to die of the virus, the Tribune reported.

New Mexico has had some disturbing jumps over the past couple of weeks though nothing as significant as the climbing numbers in Utah and Arizona. As of Friday, New Mexico was at a total of 9,526 cases, up by 162 from Thursday, which was up by 121 from Wednesday. There were six new reported fatalities as of Friday, raising the total to 426.

Statistics show that New Mexico was among 10 states that had an increase of more than 30 percent in confirmed cases during the first week in June. Utah and Arizona were also on that list.

The northwest corner of New Mexico continues to be a problem area. There were 2,870 cases in McKinley County, which has the most in the state, and 2,081 cases in San Juan County, which has the second most. San Juan County has seen 143 deaths, while McKinley County has had 139.

Many people had believed, or at least hoped, that summer weather would mean COVID-19 would essentially vanish, just as the seasonal flu tends to do. However, that has not happened. Though experts say the virus is not likely to survive long in the sunlight, it can still be spread from person to person through droplets emitted when people talk, shout, sing, cough or sneeze.

The virus is said to be two to three times as contagious as the flu. Social distancing, the wearing of masks, and diligent hand-washing remain the only real ways of avoiding it, beyond staying in complete isolation.

The resurgence in coronavirus cases puts governors and other leaders in a difficult position as they try to revive local economies. People were eager to get outside and try to resume normal lives and were hopeful that summer might see a rebound in economic activity and job availability. But the main rebound so far has been in the disease. Although the vast majority of people who contract it will survive, and some will have very mild cases, other survivors have described it as “ten times worse than the flu” and have suffered lasting organ damage.

A week ago, a young woman in Chicago was given a double lung transplant after her own lungs were destroyed by the virus, doctors announced.

From June 2020.