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Public health expert optimistic about lull in COVID-19 cases

Dr. Joe Gerald
Dr. Joe Gerald
Dr. Joe Gerald

For many of us, COVID-19 has faded into the background. Masks are off, indoor spaces are packed.

But is the roller coaster ride really over? What about new variants?

The omicron variant seen surging in other parts of the world has been found in Arizona. But Will Humble, former state health department director, says it’s not too different from the original omicron strain.

"One good thing that we know about it, is that it’s not any more dangerous than the original omicron or B-A-1. There’s nothing different about the clinical presentation which means it’s not more lethal. It’s not more likely to cause bad outcomes as far as we know," said Humble.

He said it’s also not trying to compete with the original strain. The Arizona Department of Health Services reports most of Arizona now ranks low for COVID-19 spread.

Although things are getting back to normal, Dr. Aryn O’Connor with Banner Health still urges people to get a vaccine.

“We know it’s going to surge again and so right now, we have a little bit of a reprieve, we really need to take action and make sure we’re all getting vaccine and boosters so that we don’t have preventable death,” she said.

The Mayo Clinic has said about 60% of Arizonans are fully vaccinated.

So, do we need another booster? The Show spoke with Dr. Joe Gerald, associate professor of Public Health Policy at the University of Arizona, about that and what to expect in the coming months.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story and headline have been updated to clarify that COVID-19 is not currently spiking in Arizona.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.