Arizona reports 2,799 new coronavirus cases, 171 more deaths

Dec 29, 2020, 8:25 AM | Updated: 5:20 pm

Pharmacists prepare doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Life Care Center of Kirkland on December 2...

Pharmacists prepare doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Life Care Center of Kirkland on December 28, 2020 in Kirkland, Washington. The Life Care Center of Kirkland, a nursing home, was an early epicenter for coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

This is a regularly updated story with the latest information about the coronavirus and its impact in Arizona and beyond for Dec. 29, 2020.

PHOENIX – Arizona health officials reported 2,799 new coronavirus cases and a near-record 171 additional deaths on Tuesday.

The record for the most COVID-19 fatalities reported at one time is 172, set on July 30.

The state’s documented totals increased to 507,222 COVID-19 infections and 8,640 fatalities, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services dashboard.

The state’s daily updates 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.

Multiple COVID-19 metrics in Arizona have been at or near pandemic highs.

The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 hospital inpatients climbed to a record 4,475 on Monday, about 1,000 more than at the peak of the pandemic’s first wave in July.

The number of COVID-19 patients in the state’s ICU beds increased to 1,053 on Monday, the fifth consecutive day with a record high.

Statewide, suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients took up 53% of all inpatient beds and 59% of all ICU beds, both records.

Overall, inpatient beds and ICU beds were each 91% full.

The rising tide of COVID-19 patients is leaving less and less space for other patients in Arizona’s hospitals. Only 38% of all inpatients were non-COVID on Monday, the lowest rate of the pandemic. For ICU beds, 32% were non-COVID, the second-lowest rate recorded.

Arizona’s weekly percent positivity for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, an indicator of how much the virus is spreading in the community, was 22% through 105,010 tests for last week. If that holds up, it will break the record of 21% from the week starting June 28.

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 6,145 for Monday, a day after falling below 6,000 for just the second time since Dec. 10, according to tracking by The Associated Press.

The seven-day average of newly reported COVID-19 deaths rose to 71 for Monday, ending a five-day streak of declines.

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 153 new coronavirus cases and four additional deaths, bringing the documented totals to 22,526 infections and 781 fatalities.
  • Banner Health, the state’s largest hospital system, said multiple Phoenix-area hospitals have gone on diversion in an effort to handle an influx of patients. Diversion means hospitals are closed to emergency transports and hospital transfers in an effort to work through a backlog of patients, but facilities are still open to walk-in patients seeking emergency care.
  • Arizona health officials are urging people to ring in the new year at home as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
  • The panel of health experts that makes Arizona’s COVID-19 vaccination priority recommendations moved adults 75 and older into a higher slot.
  • Globally, there were about 81.45 million COVID-19 cases and 1.78 million deaths as of Tuesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University research. The figures for the U.S. were around 19.31 million cases and 335,000 deaths.

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Arizona reports 2,799 new coronavirus cases, 171 more deaths