Arizona adds 223 COVID-19 deaths Tuesday in largest daily report since February

Dec 21, 2021, 9:29 AM | Updated: Dec 22, 2021, 8:39 am
Medical workers treat a patient with COVID-19 in the ICU at a hospital in Neuchatel, Switzerland, T...
Medical workers treat a patient with COVID-19 in the ICU at a hospital in Neuchatel, Switzerland, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)
(Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

PHOENIX – Arizona health officials on Tuesday reported 223 new COVID-19 deaths, the most in over 10 months, and 2,395 more cases.

That put the state’s documented pandemic totals at 1,341,377 infections and 23,742 fatalities, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services’ COVID-19 dashboard.

While Tuesday death reports tend to be on the high side to catch up from reduced data processing over the weekend, the latest report was the largest since Feb. 9.

And after what looked like the start of a downward trend last week in hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases, the inpatient and ICU numbers headed higher Monday.

COVID inpatients rose to 2,539, 43 more than the previous day and the second consecutive day-over-day increase after nearly a week of declining numbers.

ICU use for COVID patients was at 702 beds, up 16 from the previous day and the first time above 700 since Dec. 12.

Overall remaining hospital space was reported at 495 inpatient beds (6% of capacity) and 79 ICU beds (5% of capacity) on Monday. COVID cases were taking up 29% of statewide inpatient beds and 42% of the ICU beds.

The White House announced Tuesday that federal emergency response support and paramedics were being sent to Arizona to help hospitals cope with COVID caseloads as the highly contagious omicron variant becomes the nation’s dominant form of the virus.

Arizona’s weekly percent positivity for diagnostic COVID testing dipped in mid-December but remains at a level of high transmission, with 11% of the completed samples taken last week returning positive as of Tuesday’s dashboard update. The rate was 12% for the limited number of samples from this week that have been processed.

ADHS released new data earlier this month 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.

Banner Health, the state’s largest hospital network, reported last week that 88% of its COVID ICU patients hadn’t been vaccinated.

The state dashboard on Tuesdsay showed 68.6% of Arizonans old enough to get vaccinated have received at least one shot, with 58.2% fully vaccinated. That trails the national rates of 77.4% of age-eligible individuals with at least one dose and 65.4% 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.

Health officials recommend 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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Arizona adds 223 COVID-19 deaths Tuesday in largest daily report since February