Arizona reports 88 more virus deaths; hospitalizations climb
PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona on Saturday reported 88 deaths from COVD-19, while virus-related hospitalizations continued to climb.
The state also reported 16,504 additional confirmed infections, the most reported in one day in a year, as the spread of the omicron variant resulted in lines of cars on streets near testing sites as drivers awaited their turn to leave specimens.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, Arizona’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases tripled over the past two weeks from 2,945.6 on Dec. 23 to 9,091.6 on Thursday.
The state’s rolling average of daily deaths dropped from 60.9 to 55.3 during the same period.
The omicron variant spreads even more easily than other coronavirus strains, and has already become dominant in many countries. It also more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or had previously been infected by prior versions of the virus.
Though early studies show omicron is less likely to cause severe illness and hospitalization than the previous delta variant, hospitals statewide remain crowded.
The number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations rose for the seventh straight day, with 2,597 virus patients occupying inpatient beds statewide as of Friday.
Virus-related hospitalizations dropped during most of December but have been rising again since Jan. 1.
Embry Health reported a record 40,000 scheduled tests at its locations Friday.
One Embry Health site in Tempe was closed temporarily Friday when a long line of cars snaked through a neighborhood as drivers and passengers waited for hours.
Burke Files told KNXV-TV that the line in his neighborhood delayed trash pickups, kept residents from getting to their driveways and meant school buses couldn’t make curbside pickups of kids.
“They’re making it their neighborhood man, and they’re not making their customers very happy,” said Files.
Raymond Embry, CEO of Embry Health, said the Tempe location was temporarily shut down due to staffing issues and high demand.
Embry said the company was trying to schedule appointments in ways that wouldn’t create traffic jams and increasing wages to get more staff.
After neighbors filed complaints and repeatedly called police, Embry temporarily closed the site Friday afternoon.
While the site was closed, workers directed waiting people to a nearby site in Mesa that had little to no wait times.
In other developments:
— The number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered statewide passed 10 million on Friday and nearly two-thirds of all Arizonans are now vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.
— The state prison system announced Friday it was offering booster shots to vaccinated inmates and employees.