Arizona reports 4,134 new coronavirus cases, 64 more deaths

Dec 15, 2020, 8:25 AM | Updated: 6:29 pm

This is a regularly updated story with the latest information about the coronavirus and its impact in Arizona and beyond for Dec. 15, 2020.

PHOENIX – Arizona health officials on Tuesday reported 4,134 new coronavirus cases, 64 additional deaths and another record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The state’s documented totals increased to 424,382 COVID-19 infections and 7,422 fatalities, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Overall, multiple COVID-19 metrics in Arizona are at or approaching the highest they’ve ever been.

The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 hospital inpatients was up to 3,702 on Monday, the fourth consecutive record-setting day.

The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in ICU beds was 863 on Monday, the most since July 21 and 107 below the July 13 record of 970.

Statewide, 43% of all inpatient beds and 49% of all ICU beds were filled Monday with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients, rates that have climbed steadily for about two months.

Overall, inpatient beds were 90% filled and ICU beds were 91% filled, rates that have been relatively stable because hospitals are admitting fewer non-COVID patients.

Arizona’s weekly percent positivity for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, an indicator of how much the virus is spreading in the community, is showing signs of leveling off after reaching its highest level in five months.

As of Tuesday’s report, the positivity rate for last week was 18%, same as the previous week.

The positivity rate peaked at 21% at the end of June and was down to 4% as recently as early October.

Official positivity rates are based on when the samples are taken, not when they are reported, so the percentage for recent weeks can fluctuate as labs get caught up on testing and the results are documented by the state.

The rolling seven-day average for the health department’s newly reported cases was a record 7,772.14 for Monday, according to tracking by The Associated Press, more than doubling the July peak of the first wave.

The seven-day average of newly reported deaths has trailed the pace of cases but is surging this month. It was at 58.29 for Monday, more than doubling since Dec. 1 to the highest level since Aug. 12. The weekly death average peaked July 30 at 94.

The Arizona health department’s daily reports present case, death and testing data after the state receives statistics and confirms them, which can lag by several days or more. They don’t represent the actual activity over the past 24 hours.

The hospitalization data posted each morning is reported electronically the previous evening by 100 hospitals across the state, as required under executive order.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has no impact on some people and is seriously debilitating or fatal for others. Infected people without symptoms — which include but are not limited to cough, fever and difficulty breathing — are capable of spreading the virus.

Information about testing locations can be found on the Arizona Department of Health Services website.

Below are Tuesday’s latest developments about the coronavirus pandemic from around the state, country and world:

  • The Navajo Nation reported 160 new cases and five new deaths, bringing the documented totals to 19,929 infections and 727 fatalities.
  • Dr. Cleavon Gilman, an emergency room doctor who spoke out on Twitter about the reality of taking care of coronavirus patients in Yuma, is back to work after an outpouring of support on social media.
  • The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to implement a mandatory curfew as coronavirus continues to surge in the state.
  • The first home test for COVID-19 that doesn’t require a prescription will soon be on U.S. store shelves after regulators authorized a rapid coronavirus test that can be done entirely at home.
  • A World War II veteran living at a Phoenix VA facility became the first known Arizonan to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Hundreds more U.S. hospitals geared up to vaccinate their workers as federal regulators issued a positive review of a second COVID-19 vaccine needed to boost the nation’s largest vaccination campaign.
  • Globally, there were about 73.01 million COVID-19 cases and 1.62 million deaths as of Tuesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University research. The figures for the U.S. were around 16.52 million cases and 300,000 deaths.

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Arizona reports 4,134 new coronavirus cases, 64 more deaths