COVID-19 (Photo: Irina Shatilova, Getty Images/iStockphoto)
While it’s not at the epicenter of a recent surge in U.S. cases, Arizona’s COVID-19 metrics are worsening.
Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona Department of Health Services director,said Arizona is at a “pivotal” moment for COVID-19. She does not want to see another scenario like summer, when coronavirus cases exploded in the state.
“A lot of it is going to depend on the upcoming weeks,” Christ told The Arizona Republic on Wednesday. “This pandemic has been so hard to predict and watching what the other states are going through, it’s certainly a possibility, which is why I think right now I think is a pivotal point to remind everybody to keep doing those mitigation strategies.”
Arizona is not seeing the rapid surges spreading across many other states, including Wisconsin and other parts of the Midwest.
Comparatively, Arizona is doing much better than many.
But it doesn’t take much for case counts to escalate, which in turn leads to increased hospitalizations and deaths.
“Our sister states New Mexico and Utah are having very bad rounds of it right now, where their hospital capacity is getting stretched,” said Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer for Banner Health, which is Arizona’s largest health delivery system. “It’s not really practical to think some of that isn’t going to come into Arizona and we’re not going to have increased activity.”
Daily case counts, hospitalizations, ICU beds in use and ventilators in use have seen gradual increases. Arizona’s reproduction rate for the SARS-CoV-2 virus is at 1.16, around the same level as early June, according to rt.live, a tracking website created by Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, using data from the COVID Tracking Project.
The reproduction rate means the virus is spreading at about the same rate it was in early June, and at a faster rate than desired. The metric was below one, meaning infections slowed, from late June to early September, after which it’s gradually increased.
“It’s one of many metrics that we are watching. It’s an easy metric to direct Arizonans to,” Christ said. “Hopefully they can make changes in what they are doing to help bring that reproduction number down.
Arizona’s cases spiked in June and July to one of the worst surges in the world, causing a domino effect of hospitalizations, an increased need for ICU beds and a rise in deaths.
All of Arizona’s COVID-19 metrics remain far below the levels hit during the state’s summer peak for the virus, but experts caution that the increases seen in recent weeks could again quickly mushroom out of control.
“If you look at where we’re at now, it’s only a matter of time,” said Joshua LaBaer, director of the Arizona State University Biodesign Institute and leader of the university’s COVID-19 research efforts. LaBaer pointed to the upward-trending case increases since the end of September.
In a news briefing Wednesday, LaBaer said there’s no doubt in his mind that Arizona is in a COVID-19
Longer Armor training span showing gains in skills, lethality, fitness, of tank crews, cavalry scouts | Article
Fort Benning Public AffairsFORT BENNING, Ga. – When Soldiers just out of Armor training are sent to the Army's tank and scout forces, they'll arrive more fully trained, more lethal with their weapons, and more physically fit, officials in charge of their training say in a recent video.The gains in skill, lethality and fitness have come about because the Army lengthened Armor One-Station Unit Training, or Armor OSUT, to 22 weeks, say the officials, who are senior leaders in the 194th Armored Brigade, which produced the video. The longer training span began last fall.The brigade is part of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence here, and trains the Army's tank crew members, known by their Army job code of 19 Kilo, and cavalry scouts, coded 19 Delta.Armor OSUT for armor crewmen had been 15 weeks long. For cavalry scouts it had been 17 weeks."When we look at the different conditions, or I should say considerations, of lethality: mental, physical toughness, vehicle proficiency, and field craft and discipline, we've been able to increase not only the rigor but we've also been able to increase the proficiency, especially on vehicle platforms," Col. Dawson A. Plummer, the brigade's commander, says in the video.Among training gains that benefit Armor crewmen and cavalry scouts alike, according to the video, are:• Time to be trained and certified in the Army's Combat Lifesaver Course• Training and certification in basic hand-to-hand fighting skills known as Level 1 Combatives• Greater lethality through more extensive weapons training• Higher physical fitness levels through a greater number of fitness sessions using the Army's rigorous Army Combat Fitness Test, or ACFT.• More time for learning use of map and compass, known as land navigation• More field training that hones basic battlefield skillsIn addition, for Armor crewmen, the longer OSUT is affording more thorough training in:• Driving the M1 Abrams tank• Preventive maintenance of the tank• Tank gunneryFor cavalry scouts, the extended OSUT also allows for:• A chance to get familiar with all three of the combat vehicles they might eventually be assigned to work with: the eight-wheeled Stryker combat vehicle, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and humvee• Basic preventive maintenance of combat vehicles• Use of radioFor Armor crewmen, the transition to a longer OSUT means Soldiers are trained beyond mere familiarity, to proficiency, Lt. Col. Nathaniel B. Davis, commander of the brigade's 1st Battalion, 81st Armor Regiment, says in the video."The intent behind the transition is to change from where we had been producing Armor crewmen who were familiar as drivers, loaders and gunners, to ones that are competent and proficient as drivers and loaders, familiar as gunners, and ready to contribute at their first unit of assignment," Davis says."As we made the transition from 15- to 22-week OSUT, we focused our efforts on a number of key areas: increasing maintenance tasks, increasing gunnery skills training and testing, increasing the amount and rigor of field training, and increasing the amount and rigor of driver training," Davis says.Driver training has increased "significantly," he says."This has