Medicine doctor and vaccine dose flu shot drug syringe in laboratory, microbiology and pharmaceutical research, medical and healthcare.

Pandemic pessimists and oasis optimists alike have reason to dig into their views.

Even as Gov. Doug Ducey praised the rollout of vaccines at State Farm Stadium, COVID-19 continues to ravage the West Valley, with a stunning acceleration of the spread over the last week.

West Valley coronavirus numbers surged far past the marker of 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in a one-week period that is considered “substantial spread.” 

The city-wide average for Glendale rocketed from 511 cases per 100,000 to 811.

Peoria increased from 633 cases per 100,000 to 958.

Litchfield Park and Waddell also topped 800 cases per 100,000.

Glendale ZIP code 85303 increased from 702 cases per 100,000 to 872 while 85301 increased from 538 to 753 cases per 100,000.

Glendale 85305 nearly doubled, from 578 to 1,007 cases per 100,000. Glendale 85302 also topped 1,000 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the last week.

Peoria 85383 increased from 711 to 1,084 cases per 100,000, while Peoria 85345 surged to 872 cases per 100,000.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, Arizona has been the state with the highest spread in the country - yet the West Valley is many times above the state average is 125 cases per 100,000 in the last seven days. The national average is 71 cases per 100,000.

While the deadly disease - more than 11,000 in Arizona have died from COVID-19, with 4,700 deaths in Maricopa County - rages, a cavalry in the form of vaccines has arrived.

Health care workers and emergency responders began receiving COVID-19 vaccines in mid-December. 

The second group, including those over 75, started getting vaccine shots at State Farm Stadium last week. 

This week, plans are in place to expand to those 65 and older.

Jodi Castle, who lives in Goodyear and works at Dignity Health Emergency Care in Glendale, received the first of the two-dose regimen two days before Christmas.

“After that dose, I just had a slight sore arm,” she said.

She got the second shot Jan. 12.

“Was fine the first day. But the next day I woke up feeling feverish, temp of only 99.6 so higher than usual but not a fever,” she said.

She said she had a slight headache and body aches, which she attributes to side effects of the vaccine.

“One of my ER doctors says it’s normal to feel that as it’s your immune system kicking in to combat what it thinks is the virus,” she said.

It’s a small price to pay for potential defense from the disease, she said.

“The ER’s and hospitals have been so overwhelmed - we are exhausted, so I’m very excited to be a part of the solution,” Castle said.

She noted she had COVID-19 in July. “I recovered just fine in a couple weeks, thankfully, as so many don’t,” she said.

The Arizona Department of Health Services said it will offer vaccine doses to adults 65 and older starting Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Registration is required. Appointments can be made at podvaccine.azdhs.gov.

At Glencroft Center for Modern Aging in Glendale, the largest continuing care retirement community in Arizona, due to the post-holiday spike, “We have opened a COVID isolation ward and have a handful of recovering patients there and the hospitals are asking us to take more but none have been infected in our building,” said Scott McClintock.

But, the chief strategy officer added, “What’s really different now though is the availability of vaccines. On Jan. 7 and 12, all of our long-term care residents and most of our staff were vaccinated giving us clear optimism about soon returning to a more normal life without the ever-present fear of COVID.” 

County health officials stress they are waiting for more supplies of the vaccine - and, as both Pfizer and Moderna shots are being administered, to make sure first and second shots match.

“Individuals can sign up as soon as there are appointments that are available in the 21 to 28 days out from when they received their first dose,” said Ron Coleman, a Maricopa County spokesman. “So they should look at their vaccine card and see what date is listed (to) return and the manufacturer of vaccine they had; be sure to choose a site that offers the same type.”

While a handful of pharmacies are now providing vaccines, plans are for a rollout with hundreds of pharmacies giving shots - but it all depends on supplies, being doled out by the federal government.

For both first and second shots, Coleman said, “Appointments are being opened up as more vaccine becomes available. Maricopa County continues to work with community partners to make more locations available.”

In the first few days of the 1B vaccinations, more than 12,000 received shots at State Farm Stadium.

“This is positive, encouraging news as we scale up our vaccination capacity in Arizona,” said Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ. “It’s clear that Arizonans are excited about the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We’re working around the clock to meet that demand. 

“As the federal government ships more vaccine doses to Arizona, we will have more vaccine sites and appointments available soon.”

 

‘Game changer’

“Arizona’s vaccine site at State Farm Stadium has been a game changer,” said Ducey. 

Though all appointments at the state’s 24/7 vaccination site at State Farm Stadium for January were filled, registration for more appointments in February were to open Tuesday, January 19.

Ducey said the State Farm Stadium site will continue to operate at full capacity through the end of January providing the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Beginning in February, the State Farm Stadium site will begin offering second dose appointments in addition to the site’s current capacity for first doses.

Starting Tuesday, Jan. 19, those in groups prioritized for vaccination can register for available appointments at State Farm Stadium and multiple other vaccination sites at podvaccine.azdhs.gov. 

Information about all vaccination sites across Arizona can be found at azhealth.gov/findvaccine. 

Those without computer access or needing extra help registering can call 1-844-542-8201 to be connected with someone who can assist. 

A note from the state: “You can use the patient portal at podvaccine.azdhs.gov to make an appointment for a relative in a prioritized group, such as someone 75 and older.

Those scheduled for vaccination will need to show identification upon arrival to the vaccination site demonstrating they qualify for phases 1A or priority 1B.

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination, visit azdhs.gov/COVID19Vaccines.  

Tom Scanlon can be reached at tscanlon@timespublications.com.