ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona reports under 4,000 COVID cases again, but hospitalizations keep climbing

Nov 22, 2021, 10:13 AM
FILE - A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher,...

FILE - A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

PHOENIX – Arizona health officials on Monday reported fewer than 4,000 new COVID-19 cases for the second consecutive day, but the steady increase in hospitalizations continues.

The Arizona Department of Health Services added 3,249 cases and two deaths to its COVID-19 dashboard, pushing the state’s documented totals for the pandemic to 1,245,127 infections and 21,942 fatalities.

Friday and Saturday each saw more than 5,000 cases added, single-day levels not reached since January.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 surged this summer, when the highly transmissible delta variant became the dominant version of the virus, and then tailed off after a mid-September peak. But they started rising again in October and have reached levels not seen in more than nine months.

There were 2,470 confirmed or suspected COVID inpatients recorded in Arizona hospitals Sunday, 14 more than the previous day and the most since Feb. 10, when the winter surge was easing but vaccines were in limited supply.

ICU usage for COVID patients was up to 650 beds, six more than the previous day and the most since Feb. 13.

The inpatient and ICU numbers each have increased by around 40% since the end of October.

“We can’t say exactly why this increase is happening even before the holiday season, though cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to be largely among unvaccinated people,” Jessica Rigler, ADHS assistant director for the Division of Public Health Preparedness, said in a blog post Friday.

COVID-19 patients accounted for 28% of all Arizona’s inpatient capacity and 36% of the state’s ICU capacity on Sunday. The number of unused hospital beds statewide was at 545 for inpatients and 123 for ICUs.

The height of the winter wave saw more than 10,000 new cases reported on some days, with over 5,000 COVID inpatients and 1,100 ICU patients.

Thirteen percent of the completed diagnostic tests for samples taken last week returned positive as of Monday’s dashboard update, the highest weekly percent positivity since Jan. 17-23. The winter peak for weekly percent positivity was 19% for Dec. 27-Jan 3.

The state health department’s daily updates present case and death 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 numbers posted each morning are reported electronically the previous evening by hospitals across the state.

Nearly two-thirds of Arizonans eligible for a vaccine have received at least one shot, according to the dashboard.

The minimum age to receive the Pfizer shot is 5, and it’s 18 for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The Pfizer version has full Food and Drug Administration approval, while the other two were granted emergency use authorization.

Adults who received their second Pfizer or Moderna doses more than six months ago are eligible for booster shots, as are people who got the Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months ago.

“Vaccines have proven remarkably effective at preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19,” Don Herrington, ADHS interim director, said in a press release Friday.

“Now everyone 18 and older can get a safe and free booster dose to make sure they continue to have the best possible protection.”

For details about statewide vaccine availability, the ADHS website has a vaccine-finder page with locations and other information.

For information about metro Phoenix vaccine availability, Maricopa County Public Health has a locator page that lists pharmacies, government-run sites, health clinics and pop-up distribution events. Appointments may be required depending on the provider.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 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 where to get tested for COVID-19 can be found on the ADHS website.

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Arizona reports under 4,000 COVID cases again, but hospitalizations keep climbing