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Arizona leads U.S. in rate of surging COVID-19 cases

Much of the country is recovering from the most recent COVID-19 surge, even as the reality sets in that the coronavirus is here to stay.

But Arizona is still riding the wave, leading the U.S. with a 50% bump in cases over the past two weeks.

In a press briefing, Joshua LaBaer, director of Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute, said rates of coronavirus transmission, hospitalization and ICU use ought to be decreasing since the last surge, but that hasn't happened.

"We have not seen an appreciable drop in weeks now, and that surprises me. So, I think that reminds us that we're not back to normal yet."

Hospitalizations are trending toward younger, unvaccinated patients, although older people and those with comorbidities still face significant risk, even if vaccinated. Only 21% of Arizonans under the age of 20 have received a vaccination dose, compared to 93% of people 65 and older.

Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.