ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona COVID hospitalizations, deaths aren’t surging despite record caseloads

Jan 14, 2022, 10:03 AM
Robert Emmerling gets a COVID-19 test done by a healthcare worker on Jan. 13, 2022, in North Miami,...
Robert Emmerling gets a COVID-19 test done by a healthcare worker on Jan. 13, 2022, in North Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – The omicron variant has pushed COVID-19 caseloads to record levels in Arizona, but hospitalizations and deaths haven’t seen a similar surge.

Although the state health department reported pandemic records for new cases two of the last three days – including more than 20,000 for the first time on Friday – hospital numbers have been relatively stable since midweek.

Arizona’s COVID inpatient numbers have reached their highest levels in 11 months, but they haven’t changed significantly in recent days and are about 40% below last winter’s peak. And with omicron proving to cause a smaller percentage of serious illnesses than previous forms of the virus, COVID-related ICU bed use and the seven-day average for newly reported deaths have remained below the delta wave peaks seen last month.

“Nearly a third of our inpatient beds are now occupied by COVID or suspected COVID patients,” Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer for Banner Health, told reporters this week. “Roughly 90% of those COVID patients are unvaccinated.”

However, while the risk for severe outcomes is highest for unvaccinated people and those over 65, there’s always a chance even breakthrough omicron infections could trigger serious illness or long-haul symptoms down the road. And health care facilities have to use extra resources to safely care for COVID-positive patients who need treatment unrelated to the virus.

Based on trends seen elsewhere, Arizonans should get used to seeing record caseloads before the omicron wave subsides.

“What we currently forecast is that in Arizona, we are not yet at the omicron peak,” Bessel said. “That is likely going to occur in the upcoming weeks.

“What we do know is that the number of cases that are going to be diagnosed here in the state of Arizona will continue to increase.”

Here’s the latest data on the pandemic in Arizona (hospital, case, death, testing and vaccination statistics are based on Friday morning’s update of the Arizona Department of Health Services COVID-19 dashboard; seven-day averages are based on tracking by The New York Times):

COVID-19 cases

  • Documented pandemic total – 1,563,193
  • Daily new reports – Friday: 20,257; One day earlier: 18,573; One week earlier: 14,888; Pandemic high: 20,257 (Jan. 14, 2022)
  • Seven-day average – Thursday: 16,099; One day earlier: 14,972; One week earlier: 8,068; Pandemic high: 16,099 (Jan. 13, 2022)

COVID-19 deaths

  • Documented pandemic total – 25,068
  • Daily new reports – Friday: 66; One day earlier: 10; One week earlier: 30; Pandemic high: 335 (Jan. 12, 2021)
  • Seven-day average – Thursday: 59; One day earlier: 60: One week earlier: 53; Pandemic high: 175 (Jan. 13, 2021)

COVID-19 hospitalizations

  • COVID inpatients – Thursday: 2,932; One day earlier: 2,920; One week earlier: 2,562; Pandemic high: 5,082 (Jan. 11, 2021)
  • COVID ICU patients – Thursday: 630; One day earlier: 629; One week earlier: 608; Pandemic high: 1,183 (Jan. 11, 2021)

Statewide hospital capacity

  • Inpatients beds available – Thursday: 446 (5% of capacity); One day earlier: 446 (5%); One week earlier: 483 (6%)
  • Percentage of inpatient beds with COVID patients – Thursday: 33%; One day earlier: 33%; One week earlier: 29%
  • ICU beds available – Thursday: 75 (5% of capacity); One day earlier: 78 (5%); One week earlier: 95 (6%)
  • Percentage of ICU beds with COVID patients – Thursday: 38%; One day earlier: 38%; One week earlier: 36%

Laboratory diagnostic testing

  • Weekly percent positivity – Samples taken this week: 34%; Last week: 29%; Two weeks ago: 22%; Pandemic high (for a completed week): 29% (Jan. 2-8, 2022)
  • Find a testing site: ADHS (statewide)

Vaccines

  • Percentage of eligible Arizonans fully vaccinated – As of Friday: 59.3%; Previous day: 59.2%
  • Percentage of eligible Arizonans with at least one shot – As of Friday: 71.2%; Previous day: 71.1%
  • Find a vaccine site: ADHS (statewide); Maricopa County Public Health (metro Phoenix)

Additional details

The ADHS daily case and death updates can cover multiple days of reporting because of data processing procedures and aren’t meant to represent the actual activity over the previous 24 hours. The hospitalization numbers posted each morning are reported electronically the previous evening by hospitals across the state.

The actual caseload is likely higher than officially reported because ADHS 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.

Vaccines have proven to reduce the likelihood of a COVID infection causing serious illness or death, even with the highly contagious omicron variant.

The minimum age for vaccination is 5 for Pfizer and 18 for Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. Boosters are approved, and highly encouraged, for individuals who received their second Pfizer (ages 12 and up only) or Moderna doses at least five months ago or the Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months ago.

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Arizona COVID hospitalizations, deaths aren’t surging despite record caseloads