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Arizona reports 5,236 more COVID cases; hospitalizations up

December 3, 2021 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona on Friday reported over 5,000 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases as virus-related hospitalizations continued to rise.

The 5,236 additional cases and 14 deaths reported by the Department of Health Services raised the state’s pandemic totals to 1,282,191 cases and 22,397 deaths.

As of Monday, 2,714 virus patients occupied inpatient rooms in hospitals statewide, the most since last February during last winter’s surge.

Although current virus-related hospitalizations are only about half the peak that happened last January, hospitals overall are just as full as they were during the worst of the winter surge because more non-COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized.

Only 5% of Arizona’s inpatient hospital beds were unoccupied as of Thursday, according to state officials.

Hospital officials have pleaded with people to get vaccinated and do everything they can to combat the spread of the virus.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, Arizona’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases dropped from 3,660.9 on Nov. 17 to 3,051.1 on Wednesday. However, that end point occurred before the state reported 4,012 cases on Thursday and Friday’s even larger figure.

The state’s rolling average of daily deaths declined from 36.6 on Nov. 17 to 30 on Wednesday.

In other developments:

— A senior Arizona public health official, citing news reports of people having to wait two weeks for booster shot appointments, said there’s plenty of vaccine available but that people need to be flexible to get vaccinated right away.

“Appointments may be available a little farther away or at a provider you haven’t visited before if you face a longer-than-desired wait for one in your neighborhood,” Jessica Rigler, the Department of Health Services’ director of public health preparedness, wrote Thursday in a blog post.

Rigler suggested using the department’s vaccine-finder website and checking locally and online for pop-up clinics and vaccination events.

— State Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, asked the Attorney General’s Office to look into whether Tucson’s vaccination mandate for city employees violates a state law protecting religious beliefs, the Arizona Capitol Times reported.

Townsend made her request Wednesday under an Arizona law that allows individual legislators to demand the Attorney General’s Office investigate alleged violations of state law.

Tucson required all city employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Wednesday and the vast majority have complied.

Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin has said the state law cited by Townsend applies only to private employers and that the city provide religious accommodations.