ARIZONA NEWS

With omicron rampant, Arizona again reports more than 7,000 new COVID cases

Jan 4, 2022, 9:14 AM
Donna Cerda and Melva Moreno, health staff from Edinburg CISD, work at a COVID-19 testing site at t...

Donna Cerda and Melva Moreno, health staff from Edinburg CISD, work at a COVID-19 testing site at the Robert Vela High School cafeteria, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in Edinburg, Texas. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor via AP)

(Delcia Lopez/The Monitor via AP)

PHOENIX – Arizona health officials reported more than 7,000 new COVID-19 cases for the fourth time in the past five days on Tuesday as the omicron surge continues.

The addition of 7,212 cases and 154 deaths put the state’s documented pandemic totals at 1,411,813 infections and 24,509 fatalities, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services COVID-19 dashboard.

Even though omicron is proving to produce less severe illness than previous versions of COVID-19, health officials are worried about what the variant’s rapid spread will do to a health care system that’s already stretched thin.

“Lots of new cases coming in, and even if a smaller percentage of them end up needing hospitalization, it’s still going to send more people to the hospital, at least in January and the first part of February,” Dr. Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association and former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show last week.

Arizona’s seven-day average for new cases has more than doubled since the day after Christmas, and the number of COVID-related inpatients is at its highest level in two weeks, according to the latest data.

The number of Arizona hospital COVID inpatients was at 2,463 on Monday, up 82 from the previous day and the most since Dec. 21. ICU use for COVID patients was at 593 beds, down eight from the previous day.

Overall remaining hospital space was reported at 623 inpatient beds (7% of capacity) and 120 ICU beds (7% of capacity) on Monday. COVID cases were taking up 28% of statewide inpatient beds and 36% of the ICU beds.

Arizona’s percent positivity for diagnostic COVID testing is at a pandemic high. It was at 22% for samples taken last week as of Tuesday’s dashboard update and 26% for so far for this week’s samples.

ADHS testing data is based mainly on electronic laboratory reporting and doesn’t include results from home kits unless individuals report them to their health care providers.

ADHS data for October showed that Arizonans who weren’t fully vaccinated against COVID were nearly four times more likely than those who were to test positive and over 15 times more likely to die from the virus. Although that was before omicron emerged, hospitals are still reporting that a vast majority of COVID patients are unvaccinated.

The vaccine protection was even stronger when accounting for booster shots, according to nationwide data. Unvaccinated people in October were at 10 times greater risk of getting infected and 20 times greater risk of dying than people whose vaccination level included a booster dose, the CDC said.

The state dashboard on Tuesday showed 69.8% of Arizonans old enough to get vaccinated had received at least one shot, with 58.7% 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.

Health officials strongly 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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With omicron rampant, Arizona again reports more than 7,000 new COVID cases