Arizona reports 7,635 new coronavirus cases, 142 more deaths
This is a regularly updated story with the latest information about the coronavirus and its impact in Arizona and beyond for Dec. 18, 2020.
PHOENIX – Arizona health officials on Friday reported 7,635 new coronavirus cases and 142 additional deaths, while the state’s hospitals continued to fill up.
It was the third consecutive day with at least 100 deaths reported. Until Thursday, there’d never been back-to-back days in triple digits.
The state’s documented totals increased to 442,671 COVID-19 infections and 7,819 fatalities, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
While the vaccine rollout was starting this week, multiple COVID-19 metrics in Arizona were at or approaching the highest levels of the pandemic.
The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 hospital inpatients was up to 3,931 on Thursday, the seventh consecutive record-setting day.
The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in ICU beds was 915, the most since July 16 and closing in on the July 13 record of 970.
Statewide, suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients took up a record-high 46% of all inpatient beds as well as 52% of all ICU beds.
Overall, inpatient beds were 93% filled, tying the previous day’s record, and ICU beds were also 93% filled, a new record high. The number of remaining inpatient beds (618) and ICU beds (128) were both at record low points for the pandemic.
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.
Through 63,019 tests this week, the positivity rate was 17%. The rate, which was 18% the previous two weeks, peaked at 21% at the end of June.
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 6,786.71 for Thursday, according to tracking by The Associated Press, the second-highest ever.
The seven-day average of newly reported deaths has surged this month. It was at 74.71 for Thursday, tripling since Dec. 1 to the highest level since Aug. 2. 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 Friday’s latest developments about the coronavirus pandemic from around the state, country and world:
- The U.S. added a second COVID-19 vaccine to its arsenal Friday, boosting efforts to beat back an outbreak so dire that the nation is regularly recording more than 3,000 deaths a day.
- The Navajo Nation reported 175 new coronavirus cases and 10 additional deaths, bringing the documented totals to 20,569 infections and 742 fatalities
- Arizona will not receive its full allotment of COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer for the upcoming week, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
- Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams has tested positive for COVID-19, the department announced.
- The legislative branch of government is rapidly moving to receive the coronavirus vaccine, with both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell getting the shot and the top Capitol doctor urging all members of Congress to join them.
- With COVID-19 wreaking havoc across Arizona, the state’s largest hospital system said it needs refrigerated trucks to deal with the surge of deaths.
- Dr. Will Humble, former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad that emergency approvals of more coronavirus vaccines will help the state vaccinate more people at a faster rate.
- Three Valley firefighters were among the first Arizonans to receive the coronavirus vaccine and hope other front-line workers will roll up their sleeves.
- Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ says Arizonans are safer at home this holiday as coronavirus cases rise.
- Vice President Mike Pence was vaccinated for COVID-19 in a live-television event aimed at reassuring Americans the vaccine is safe.
- Globally, there were about 75.13 million COVID-19 cases and 1.66 million deaths as of Friday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University research. The figures for the U.S. were around 17.21 million cases and 310,000 deaths.