Arizona reports 2,806 new COVID-19 cases, 74 more deaths Wednesday

Dec 22, 2021, 8:58 AM | Updated: 10:22 am
Merline Jimenez (L) administers a COVID-19 nasopharyngeal swab to a person at a testing site locate...
Merline Jimenez (L) administers a COVID-19 nasopharyngeal swab to a person at a testing site located in the international terminal at Los Angeles International Airport amid a surge in omicron variant cases on Dec. 21, 2021. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Arizona health officials on Wednesday reported 2,806 new COVID-19 cases, the fourth consecutive day below 3,000, and 74 additional deaths from the virus.

That put the state’s documented pandemic totals at 1,344,183 infections and 23,816 fatalities, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services’ COVID-19 dashboard.

Arizona reported nearly 300 COVID deaths Tuesday-Wednesday and led the nation in seven-day death rate per 100,000 residents as of Tuesday, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

After a single-day upturn in hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases on Monday, the inpatient and ICU numbers dipped Tuesday.

The number of COVID inpatients was at 2,490, down 49 from the previous day and the second-fewest since Nov. 21. ICU use for COVID patients was at 683 beds, down 19 from the previous day and the second-fewest since Dec. 5.

Overall remaining hospital space was reported at 531 inpatient beds (6% of capacity) and 102 ICU beds (6% of capacity) on Tuesday. It was the first time more than 100 ICU beds were available since Dec. 2.

COVID cases were taking up 28% of statewide inpatient beds and 41% of the ICU beds.

Arizona’s weekly percent positivity for diagnostic COVID testing has leveled off since ticking down in early December, but the transmission level remains high. Eleven percent of the completed samples taken this week have returned positive as of Wednesday’s dashboard update, matching the rate from the previous two weeks.

Dr. Richard Carmona, Arizona’s top pandemic adviser and a former U.S. surgeon general, said that unless a personal physician has recommended against it because of a “unique circumstance,” everybody eligible should get vaccinated against COVID-19, including a booster shot.

“The vaccine doesn’t 100% prevent you from getting the disease,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday. “But if you get it, it’ll be a milder form, it generally prevents you from being hospitalized and being on a ventilator and dying.”

The state dashboard on Wednesday showed 68.7% of Arizonans old enough to get vaccinated had received at least one shot, with 58.3% fully vaccinated. That trails the national rates of 77.2% of age-eligible individuals with at least one dose and 65.5% fully vaccinated.

Carmona warned that the more COVID spreads, the greater the chance it will mutate into something more virulent.

“It will continue to mutate, which gives you more variants and eventually you could get a variant where our vaccine doesn’t work or works poorly and then we have to start the whole process again,” he said.

“So it’s about every citizen understanding it’s not just about you and your individual rights, but what can you do to keep your family, your community, your state and your nation healthier and put this pandemic behind us.”

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 reports 2,806 new COVID-19 cases, 74 more deaths Wednesday