Arizona reports under 3,000 new COVID cases for first time this month

Dec 13, 2021, 9:20 AM

PHOENIX – Arizona health officials on Monday reported fewer than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time this month, with no additional deaths.

And after reaching their highest levels of the delta-driven surge, hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected COVID patients have eased in recent days.

The Arizona Department of Health Services COVID-19 dashboard added 2,391 cases, putting the state’s documented totals at 1,318,580 infections and 23,040 fatalities.

Monday’s new case report was the first under 3,000 since Nov. 30 and the lowest since Nov. 29.

As of Sunday, Arizona ranked second nationally for the seven-day rate of COVID deaths per 100,000 residents, trailing only Montana, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall hospital use remains near pandemic high levels, but the number of COVID inpatients has declined for four consecutive days, and the number of ICU beds used by COVID patients has gone down back-to-back days.

The number of COVID inpatients was 2,688 on Sunday, down 1 from the previous day to the lowest level since Dec. 1.

ICU usage for COVID patients was at 703 beds, down 12 from the previous day and the fewest since Dec. 7.

The number of unused hospital beds in Arizona was at 514 for inpatients and 75 for ICUs, according to the dashboard, leaving 6% of inpatient capacity and 4% of ICU capacity available.

Confirmed or suspected COVID patients took up 31% of all Arizona’s inpatient space and 40% of the ICU beds.

Arizona’s COVID hospitalizations surged this past summer, when the highly transmissible delta variant became the dominant version of the virus, and tailed off after a mid-September peak. They started rising steadily again in October.

Dr. Richard Carmona, the state’s top pandemic advisor and a former U.S. surgeon general, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News last week that nearly 80% of people hospitalized with COVID haven’t been vaccinated.

Twelve percent of the completed diagnostic tests for samples taken last week returned positive as of Monday’s dashboard update, down 1 point from the previous week.

ADHS released new data last week showing that Arizonans who aren’t fully vaccinated against COVID-19 were nearly four times more likely than those who are to test positive in October and over 15 times more likely to die from the virus.

The dashboard showed 67.8% of Arizonans old enough to get vaccinated have received at least one shot, while 57.9% of them are fully vaccinated. That trails the national rates of 76.5% of age-eligible residents with at least one dose and 64.7% fully vaccinated.

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.

Officials are now recommending booster shots for adults (including people 16 and older for Pfizer) who received their second Pfizer or Moderna doses more than six months ago and those who got the Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months ago.

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.

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.

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