Here’s the latest on COVID in Arizona for Wednesday, December 29, 2021

PHOENIX – Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Arizona are at their lowest levels since before Thanksgiving, state health officials reported Wednesday, but the death rate remains among the highest in the nation.

The Arizona Department of Health Services’ COVID-19 dashboard showed 3,411 new cases and 27 more deaths, putting the documented totals at 1,368,080 infections and 24,171 fatalities.

Arizona stood at second among all states in seven-day COVID death rate per 100,000 residents, trailing only New Mexico, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases have been trending downward statewide in recent weeks.

The number of Arizona hospital COVID inpatients was at 2,280 on Tuesday, down 64 from the previous day and the fewest since Nov. 15. COVID inpatients have declined by about 18% since the Dec. 6 peak of the latest wave.

ICU use for COVID patients was at 608 beds, down two from the previous day and the fewest since Nov. 18. COVID ICU use has declined by about 15% since the Dec. 10 peak of the latest wave.

Overall remaining hospital space was reported at 603 inpatient beds (7% of capacity) and 119 ICU beds (7% of capacity) on Tuesday. COVID cases were taking up 26% of statewide inpatient beds and 37% of the ICU beds.

Arizona’s percent positivity for diagnostic COVID testing was at 13% for samples taken last week as of Wednesday’s dashboard update, up 2 percentage points from the previous week. Early results for this week’s samples show a continuation of the upward trend, with 18% positivity so far.

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.

The vaccine protection is 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 Wednesday showed 69.3% of Arizonans old enough to get vaccinated had received at least one shot, with 58.5% fully vaccinated. The national rates are 77.7% of age-eligible individuals with at least one dose and 65.8% 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.

We want to hear from you.

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