Arizona's coronavirus pandemic experience
is nearing its end has come to an end.
The first sign that was the case came just a few days after the penultimate update to our long-running series. Arizona's Department of Health Services announced it would suspend daily reporting of the state's data on cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and numerous other related metrics on 26 February 2022 in a transition to weekly reporting that would begin on 2 March 2022. Here's an example of how the state's presentation of its data for new COVID-related hospital admissions presentation changed:
We've followed Arizona's experience with the coronavirus pandemic for two reasons. First, we were among the first analysts to confirm the state had become an epicenter for COVID-19 infections within the U.S. in June 2020. Second, Arizona is one of 26 states that presented its high quality COVID-19 data on a daily basis, which made it possible to use back calculation techniques to identify both the timing and causes of major turning points in the state's pandemic experience, which we've featured throughout the series.
The change to weekly reporting however closes off our ability to continue our analysis, because the weekly data isn't granular enough to zero in on events contributing to changes in the state's COVID trends. That change however is something that only makes sense for public health officials if they no longer anticipate a need to continue that kind of tracking. It's good news.
Flashing forward one month later, Arizona remained one of 21 states with active COVID-19 emergency orders in effect. Arizona's public officials began signaling they would soon end the state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic. Here's a Q&A with Arizona's Governor Doug Ducey from 23 March 2022:
Q: Any plans to end the state of emergency?
Ducey: Yes. The emergency is over, look around. The state is wide open. I think we had record number of people out for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Spring training in full bloom and people are coming here from around the country and around the world to watch the games, so we’re excited about it. We’re winding down a number of things that are purely administrative. We’re working with the legislature, the general fund and federal authorities to bring an end to all of that.
So are we a couple of weeks away from that ending? Months? Days? "It's coming," Ducey remarked.
On 25 March 2022, Arizona's state government took a major step that will allow it to lift its two-year-old state of emergency for the pandemic.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed legislation that will prevent temporary medical licenses issued under his coronavirus executive orders from immediately becoming invalid if he ends the state of emergency he issued two years ago.
Friday’s action extends temporary licenses issued since the Republican governor first declared a state of emergency on March 11, 2020. They will be valid until the end of the year if they were active at the start of this month.
Rep. Joanne Osborne of Goodyear told fellow Republicans in a caucus meeting last week that more than 2,200 licenses remain active, including about 1,200 issued to nurses. A waiver issued by the Department of Health Services under Ducey’s emergency order allowed doctors, nurses and other qualified health professionals to be licensed even if they lack current training or other requirements for an Arizona license.
The extension of the temporary licenses will allow boards that issue them time to process permanent license applications. The bill passed the Senate and House with only one no vote.
“If we want the emergency orders to end, this has to be taken care of first,” Republican Rep. Regina Cobb said at the same meeting of GOP House members. “And then once this is taken care of, then the governor can do what he needs to do as far as ending any emergency orders.”
At this writing, though it hasn't officially happened yet, the proverbial writing is on the wall. We've reached the end of our series on Arizona's experience with the coronavirus pandemic!
Previously on Political Calculations
Here is our previous coverage of Arizona's experience with the coronavirus pandemic, presented in reverse chronological order.
Political Calculations has been following Arizona's experience with the coronavirus experience from almost the beginning, because the state makes its high quality data publicly available. Specifically, the state's Departent of Health Services reports the number of cases by date of test sample collection, the number of hospitalizations by date of hospital admission, and the number of deaths by date recorded on death certificates.
This data, combined with what we know of the typical time it takes to progress to each of these milestones, makes it possible to track the state's daily rate of incidence of initial exposure to the variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus using back calculation methods. Links to that data and information about how the back calculation method works are presented below:
Arizona Department of Health Services. COVID-19 Data Dashboard: Vaccine Administration. [Online Database]. Accessed 17 February 2022.
Stephen A. Lauer, Kyra H. Grantz, Qifang Bi, Forrest K. Jones, Qulu Zheng, Hannah R. Meredith, Andrew S. Azman, Nicholas G. Reich, Justin Lessler. The Incubation Period of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) From Publicly Reported Confirmed Cases: Estimation and Application. Annals of Internal Medicine, 5 May 2020. https://doi.org/10.7326/M20-0504.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 Pandemic Planning Scenarios. [PDF Document]. 10 September 2020.
More or Less: Behind the Stats. Ethnic minority deaths, climate change and lockdown. Interview with Kit Yates discussing back calculation. BBC Radio 4. [Podcast: 8:18 to 14:07]. 29 April 2020.