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Arizona reports over 1,000 virus cases for 4th straight day

July 17, 2021 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona on Saturday reported over 1,000 additional COVID-19 cases for the fourth straight day as virus-related hospitalizations continued to increase.

The state Department of Health Services’ coronavirus dashboard reported 1,152 additional cases and 14 deaths, increasing Arizona’s pandemic totals to 907,268 cases and 18,114 deaths.

As across the nation, Arizona in recent weeks has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases. Public health experts attribute the increases to low vaccination rates, the fast-spreading delta variant and July Fourth gatherings.

The number of virus-elated hospitalizations in Arizona generally ranged between 500 and 600 during May and June but rose in the past week, with 745 COVID-19-related hospitalizations as of Friday, according the dashboard.

Virus patients occupied 9% of in-patient beds as of Friday, up from 6% a week ago but far below the pandemic peak of nearly 60% seen in mid-January during the winter surge.

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Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University data showed that the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases rose over the past two weeks from 520 on July 1 to 898 on Thursday, while the rolling average of daily deaths rose from 9.8 to 13 during the same period.

With nearly 51% of Arizonans having received at least one vaccine dose, there’s less chance of another major surge in cases or a significant strain on the health care system, said Dr. Cara Christ, the Department of Health Services’ director.

“But we’ve reached the point where severe cases and deaths from COVID-19 are almost entirely preventable,” Christ added in a blog post Wednesday.

However, uncertainty about how many vaccinated people previously were infected with COVID-19 makes it hard to gauge the population’s total immunity and predict the potential duration and severity of the recent “brisk acceleration” in new cases, said Dr. Joe Gerald, a University of Arizona public health researcher.

Given that uncertainty, policymakers and individuals “should take immediate steps to adopt evidence-based mitigation practices to reduce transmission,” Gerald wrote Friday in an assessment of COVID-19 conditions in Arizona. “Prudence suggests we heed this warning and prepare for the worst even as we hope for the best.”

Christ’s department on Saturday renewed its appeals for Arizona residents to be vaccinated.

“Vaccines are demonstrating their effectiveness at preventing serious cases and deaths from COVID-19. Help protect yourself and others by getting vaccinated,” the Department of Health Services said on Twitter.