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Arizona reports more than 5,100 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

January 5, 2021 GMT

Arizona health officials on Monday reported 5,158 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths.

The latest figures from the Arizona Department of Health Services came as the number of people hospitalized due to the virus hit a new high.

Officials say 54% of in-patient hospitalizations across the state are COVID-19 related. The number of people in intensive care units because of the virus is also at a record high. Health officials say only 7% of ICU beds remain available.

Arizona has confirmed a total of 561,542 COVID-19 cases and 9,064 deaths since the pandemic began.

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The number of infections is thought to be higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

The crush of COVID-19 patients has caused some Phoenix and Tucson-area hospitals to suspend elective surgeries and turn away ambulance patients or transfers from other hospitals, while still accepting walk-patients needing emergency care.

Hospital officials have discussed triage protocols that the state could order to decide which patients gets access to limited resources.

In other developments:

— Gov. Doug Ducey rejected a call from state schools Superintendent Kathy Hoffman to have all Arizona schools cease in-person learning for two weeks. The governor’s office said that decision should be left to local officials.

— Maricopa County Superior Court Clerk Jeff Fine has been hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19 and pneumonia. Fine’s office said Monday that he contracted the virus on Dec. 25 and remained home until his condition declined sharply on Friday, leading to his treatment at a hospital in Sun City.

— On Monday afternoon, dozens of teachers and parents in the Chandler Unified and Gilbert Public Schools districts protested schools reopening in-person Tuesday after winter break. They don’t want teachers to go back to in-person learning with the number of COVID-19 cases being so high. Gilbert is offering the option of hybrid learning for the first week back while Chandler is offering a virtual option for the first two weeks. Both school districts plan to go back to in-person learning after that.