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Arizona reports 849 new COVID-19 cases; death toll passes 16,000

A German help worker tests a French resident working in Germany for COVID-19 at the German-French border near Saarbrucken, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. Germany announced Sunday that travelers from France's northeastern Moselle region will face additional restrictions because of the high rate of variant coronavirus cases there. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

This is a regularly updated story with the latest information about the coronavirus and its impact in Arizona and beyond for March 2, 2021.

PHOENIX – Arizona public health officials on Tuesday reported 849 new coronavirus cases, the smallest daily increase since Nov. 30, and 81 additional deaths from COVID-19.

The state’s documented totals were updated to 818,670 coronavirus infections and 16,060 fatalities, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services’ COVID-19 dashboard.

Many of the metrics used to gauge the severity of the pandemic are the lowest they’ve been since November or earlier.

The number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 inpatients in the state’s hospitals decreased to 1,202 on Monday, the fewest since Nov. 7. The number of ICU beds used by COVID-19 patients ticked up by three to 385, the second-fewest since Nov. 15.

Arizona’s weekly percent positivity for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, an indicator of how much the virus is spreading in the community, is at a four-month low.

Of the 77,540 people tested last week, 7% received a positive result, the lowest rate since mid-October. The current week’s rate was 6% through 2,272 people.

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 seven-day average for the state health department’s newly reported coronavirus cases has plateaued over the last week and was 1,192.43 for Monday, according to tracking by The Associated Press, the lowest recorded weekly average since Oct. 30.

The seven-day average of newly reported deaths was 79.67 for the second day in a row.

After leading the nation in both categories earlier this year, Arizona now ranks in the middle of the pack among states and the District of Columbia for the rate of new cases but remains near the top in deaths.

In Monday’s update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Arizona was sixth in the nation for COVID-19 deaths per capita over the last seven days and 26th in cases.

The Arizona health department’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.

The hospitalization data posted each morning is reported electronically the previous evening by 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.

Diagnostic testing is available at hundreds of locations across Arizona and should be sought out by anybody with symptoms or who may have been exposed to an infected person. Information about locations, schedules and registration can be found on the Department of Health Services website.

For information about statewide vaccine availability, the ADHS website has a vaccine-finder page with a map of locations and information about registration.

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

  • The Arizona Department of Health Services released an updated COVID-19 vaccine prioritization chart that shows a tentative guideline when each age group can receive the shot at state-run sites.
  • The Navajo Nation reported 16 new coronavirus cases and 14 additional deaths, bringing the documented totals to 29,774 infections and 1,184 fatalities.
  • The first batch of 50,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments for residents ages 55 and up at two state-run sites were filled in about two hours.
  • The newly authorized Johnson & Johnson one-shot COVID-19 vaccine should arrive in Arizona soon, and when it does it will be distributed throughout the state, Dr. Cara Christ told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.
  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the state-run site at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.
  • The Arizona Department of Health Services reported that 1,857,741 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the state, a day-over-day increase of 39,923, with 1,241,787 people having received at least one shot.
  • Globally, there were about 114.5 million COVID-19 cases and 2.54 million deaths as of Tuesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University research. The figures for the U.S. were around 28.66 million cases and 514,000 deaths.

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