Watchful Waiting

05-02-2021Nurse's LetterShannon David, RN, NCSN

Over the past several weeks, many have asked why the infection mitigation strategies we have used since reopening, especially pertaining to mask wearing, have not been removed. These same issues have been discussed, at length, with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health’s School Health Team. At this time, we are engaged in what we in healthcare call “watchful waiting”. That may sound like nothing. In fact, it is something. Webster defines watchful waiting as “a policy of taking no immediate action with respect to a situation or course of events but of following its development intently.” (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

What are we watching? The epidemiological curve (Maricopa County Public Health Data).

From June 2020 until now, we have experienced two distinct periods of increased case numbers for COVID infection (surges). The graphic shape of these curves is so similar that the summer surge can be laid directly over the winter surge and the two differ only in amplitude. The peak day during the summer surge was June 29, 2020 with 3,872 cases recorded. 

On January 4, 2021 -7,448 new cases of COVID were reported making this not only the peak of the winter surge, but the day with the greatest number of cases per day from the outset of the pandemic. More telling data can be found in looking at the 7-day averages over time. For the 13 week period from the beginning of school, on August 17, 2020, through November 13, 2020, preceding Thanksgiving, the average 7-day average for cases of COVID in Maricopa County was 568 per day. For the past 13 weeks, the average 7-day average is 825 cases per day. Though we have seen dramatic decreases in case numbers since mid-January, the question remains whether this will be sustained. In large part due to the success of vaccine administration in Arizona, public health experts believe that we will continue to see infections decrease and achieve herd immunity by summer. To date, 2.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to Maricopa County residents; 30% (1.3 million) are fully vaccinated. Many of our staff are among those, but NONE of our students. During this time, the best way to prevent those unvaccinated from becoming infected with coronavirus is to continue to practice those things that make us “Smart, Healthy, & Holy”. Restrictions will be removed in due time.

While we are waiting, there are many things to watch--the kindergartners production of ”Stars & Stripes”, May Crowning and Graduation to name a few! Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us!