Arizona’s COVID-19 pandemic began with single case 2 years ago Wednesday

Jan 26, 2022, 8:52 AM | Updated: 11:41 am

Empty shelves were found at a Kroger grocery store on March 13, 2020, in Grosse Ile, Michigan. Some...

Empty shelves were found at a Kroger grocery store on March 13, 2020, in Grosse Ile, Michigan. Some Americans were stocking up on food, toilet paper, water and other items after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Two years ago Wednesday, Arizona reported its first confirmed case of what is now known as COVID-19.

At the time, the ubiquitous name for the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (COVID-19 is short for “coronavirus disease 2019”) was not yet being used. Only four other cases had been confirmed in the United States, and the World Health Organization was still more than two weeks away from declaring a global pandemic.

Arizona’s first COVID patient was a member of the Arizona State University community who lived in Tempe. The person had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak originated.

No other cases were reported in Arizona until March, but grocery store shelves soon emptied as customers rattled by uncertainty stockpiled toilet paper, water and nonperishable goods. It was a first sign of how daily routines would be disrupted over the next two years – and counting.

“In my career as a physician and as a medical researcher, this is the first time that I’ve ever seen a new disease enter the pantheon of human diseases that has had such an incredibly profound effect on the health of so many people,” Dr. Joshua LaBaer, executive director the Arizona State University Biodesign Institute, said during a press briefing Wednesday morning.

“It’s just a staggering effect, something that has now become the leading cause of death here in Arizona, in the United States, probably in the world.”

On the second anniversary of the first case, Arizona is in the midst of a fourth wave of COVID-19, this one fueled by the highly contagious omicron variant.

Here’s the latest data on the pandemic in Arizona (hospital, case, death, testing and vaccination statistics are based on Wednesday 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 – 1,799,503
  • Daily new reports – Wednesday: 18,229; One day earlier: 13,972; One week earlier: 20,497; Pandemic high: 27,681 (Jan. 22, 2022)
  • Seven-day average – Tuesday: 19,369; One day earlier: 20,778; One week earlier: 20,016; Pandemic high: 20,778 (Jan. 24, 2022)

COVID-19 deaths

  • Documented pandemic total – 25,899
  • Daily new reports – Wednesday: 275; One day earlier: 0; One week earlier: 21; Pandemic high: 335 (Jan. 12, 2021)
  • Seven-day average – Tuesday: 59; One day earlier: 59; One week earlier: 58; Pandemic high: 175 (Jan. 13, 2021)

COVID-19 hospitalizations

  • COVID inpatients – Tuesday: 3,511; One day earlier: 3,526; One week earlier: 3,276; Pandemic high: 5,082 (Jan. 11, 2021)
  • COVID ICU patients – Tuesday: 631; One day earlier: 616; One week earlier: 589; Pandemic high: 1,183 (Jan. 11, 2021)

Statewide hospital capacity

  • Inpatients beds available – Tuesday: 471 (5% of capacity); One day earlier: 534 (6%); One week earlier: 482 (6%)
  • Percentage of inpatient beds with COVID patients – Tuesday: 40%; One day earlier: 40%; One week earlier: 37%
  • ICU beds available – Tuesday: 92 (6% of capacity); One day earlier: 107 (7%); One week earlier: 95 (6%)
  • Percentage of ICU beds with COVID patients – Tuesday: 38%; One day earlier: 37%; One week earlier: 36%

Laboratory diagnostic testing

  • Weekly percent positivity – Samples taken this week: 32%; Last week: 35%; Two weeks ago: 33%; Pandemic high (for a full week): 35% (Jan. 16-22, 2022)
  • Find a testing site: ADHS (statewide)


  • Percentage of eligible Arizonans fully vaccinated – As of Wednesday: 59.9%; One day earlier: 59.8%
  • Percentage of eligible Arizonans with at least one shot – As of Wednesday: 72.5%; One day earlier: 72.4%
  • 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.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Sean Bickings (Family Photo via city of Tempe)...

Associated Press

Family of man who drowned last year in Tempe Town Lake files wrongful death lawsuit

The family of a man who drowned in Tempe Town Lake a year ago filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city Wednesday, noting that its police department doesn't have a policy requiring officers to go into the water to save someone.

20 hours ago

FILE - Cracked dry mud is seen in a community reservoir that ran nearly empty after its retaining w...

Brandon Gray

BLM to invest over $15M in Arizona for landscape restoration project

The Bureau of Land Management has selected Arizona for its “Restoration Landscapes” project. 

20 hours ago

(AP Photo/Alberto Mariani, File)...

Associated Press

Former Arizona official who claimed election deniers made work ‘toxic’ gets $130K settlement

A former elections official for a rural Arizona county where leaders have embraced election conspiracy theories has received a $130,000 settlement over toxic work environment claims.

20 hours ago

The stretch of 12th Avenue between Washington and Jefferson streets at the Zone homeless encampment...

Kevin Stone

2nd block cleared out in Phoenix’s Zone homeless encampment

A second block at the Zone homeless encampment in downtown Phoenix was cleared Wednesday as enhanced cleanup operations continue.

20 hours ago

Booking photo for Melissa Larue, who was released from the hospital and taken to jail after getting...

Woman shot by Phoenix officers last week jailed after release from hospital

A woman shot by police officers in Phoenix last week has been released from the hospital and taken to jail, authorities said.

20 hours ago

(KTAR News Photo/Jason Veazey)...

Fire closes eastbound Loop 101 ramp to southbound State Route 51 in Phoenix

A fire closed the eastbound Loop 101 ramp to southbound State Route 51 in Phoenix for about three hours on Wednesday afternoon.

20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]



Why drug-free weight loss still matters

Wanting to lose weight is a common goal for many people as they progress throughout life, but choosing between a holistic approach or to take medicine can be a tough decision.

(Photo: OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center)...

OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

Here’s what you need to know about OCD and where to find help

It's fair to say that most people know what obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders generally are, but there's a lot more information than meets the eye about a mental health diagnosis that affects about one in every 100 adults in the United States.

Arizona’s COVID-19 pandemic began with single case 2 years ago Wednesday