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KNAU and Arizona News

Arizona Records Over 2,000 COVID-19 Cases Each Day For Week

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Arizona has recorded more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases each day for the past week, while hospitalizations tied to the virus continue to rise.

Experts have said the highly contagious delta variant is behind surges in infections and hospitalizations seen nationwide in the past month.

Some hospital leaders have warned that health care systems could be on a trajectory to facing huge surges like last summer and winter. They also worry about ongoing staffing shortages.

While it’s typical for Arizona’s largest hospital system to hire additional nurses in the fall for a rise in illnesses in the winter, Banner Health hasn’t seen a need of such magnitude. Banner is looking to fill 1,057 vacancies for bedside nurses and 327 vacancies in support staff.

Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer, said during a briefing Tuesday that there has been a significant increase in pediatric COVID-19 patients. Banner treated 71 children with the virus in July, twice as many as in June. Intensive care and ventilator use was low. Still, parents should take all necessary steps to protect children who are too young to receive the vaccine, Bessel said.

“The more of us who get vaccinated, the more we protect those who are too young to get vaccinated,” said Bessel, who also emphasized wearing masks.

Over 3.8 million people — or 53.5% of Arizona’s eligible population — have received at least one vaccine dose, and more than 3.3 million are fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health Services dashboard.

Out of the 3.8 million partly or completely vaccinated, health officials have documented 9,880 breakthrough infections. Of those cases, 46 ended in death, according to Tom Hermann, spokesman for the state Department of Health Services. Breakthrough cases are in those who tested positive for the virus at least two weeks after getting fully vaccinated.

Around 12% of the cases where officials were able to do follow-up outreach — 585 of 4,822 — involved hospitalization. But it’s not known if all of those patients were hospitalized for the virus or if it was incidentally discovered, Hermann added.

The state reported 2,582 new infections and 12 deaths Tuesday. There are 1,470 COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide.

Arizona’s pandemic totals are now up to 950,827 cases and 18,400 deaths.

Meanwhile, there’s continued tension over mask-wearing as most schools return in person this month. Last summer, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed budget legislation that includes a ban on mask mandates in schools. Yet, multiple school districts defied the law and enacted the requirements.

Ducey has said using masks is a personal choice and that encouraging vaccines is the best way to stop the spread.

In Tucson, the Pima County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday rejected school mask mandates and vaccine mandates for health care workers and county employees. Supervisor Rex Scott said he doesn’t think there is anything wrong with vaccine mandates. But the state law, which he called irresponsible, would make these measures “essentially toothless.”

Meanwhile, Tucson Unified School District, the city’s largest and located in Pima County, is continuing with its own mask mandate.

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