Arizona reports 4,848 new coronavirus cases, 108 more deaths

Dec 16, 2020, 8:29 AM | Updated: 5:48 pm
Patients arrive for treatment in the emergency room at Roseland Community Hospital on December 15, ...
Patients arrive for treatment in the emergency room at Roseland Community Hospital on December 15, 2020, in Chicago, Illinois. About one third of the patients that arrive in the ER at Roseland display symptoms of COVID-19.(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

This is a regularly updated story with the latest information about the coronavirus and its impact in Arizona and beyond for Dec. 16, 2020.

PHOENIX – Arizona health officials on Wednesday reported 4,848 new coronavirus cases and 108 additional deaths, while COVID-19 hospitalizations continued at record levels.

The death report tied the largest daily increase since Aug. 12.

The state’s documented totals increased to 429,219 COVID-19 infections and 7,530 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 3,809 on Tuesday, the fifth consecutive record-setting day.

The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in ICU beds was 882 on Tuesday, the most since July 19 and closing in on the July 13 record of 970.

Statewide, 45% of all inpatient beds and 51% of all ICU beds were filled Tuesday with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients, rates that have been climbing steadily for about two months. The inpatient bed percentage matched the pandemic high from July 13.

Overall, inpatient beds were 92% filled and ICU beds were 91% filled. The 689 remaining inpatient beds were the fewest reported since the start of the pandemic.

Arizona’s weekly percent positivity for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, an indicator of how much the virus is spreading in the community, are on pace to match the record high.

Through 13,278 tests this week, the rate was 21%.

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 6,603.57 for Tuesday, according to tracking by The Associated Press, a drop from the previous day’s record level but the second-highest ever.

The seven-day average of newly reported deaths has trailed the pace of cases but is surging this month. It was at 64.14 for Tuesday, more than doubling since Dec. 1 to the highest level since Aug. 5. 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 Wednesday’s latest developments about the coronavirus pandemic from around the state, country and world:

  • The Navajo Nation reported 160 new coronavirus cases and four new deaths, bringing the documented totals to 20,095 infections and 731 fatalities.
  • Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ and 10 health care workers were among the first Arizonans to receive the coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday.
  • Gov. Doug Ducey pleaded with Arizonans to get the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available to them as infections continue to surge.
  • U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona said she is going into quarantine after contact with somebody who later tested positive for COVID-19. The West Valley Republican said she doesn’t have symptoms. The announcement came exactly one month after Lesko said she would quarantine after a previous exposure.
  • Pima County said that its health department is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, with the Tucson-area agency’s director among those infected.
  • An ICU nurse taking care of coronavirus patients at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix said the coronavirus vaccine is “a light at the end of the tunnel.”
  • The Navajo Nation, hit hard by the pandemic, said Tuesday it finished giving out its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Globally, there were about 73.64 million COVID-19 cases and 1.64 million deaths as of Wednesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University research. The figures for the U.S. were around 16.72 million cases and 304,000 deaths.

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Arizona reports 4,848 new coronavirus cases, 108 more deaths