With 14,000 new COVID-19 cases, Arizona sees a repeat of 2021’s winter surge

By: - January 3, 2022 3:58 pm
covid-19 mrna vaccine

After a second dose of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, a swarm of antibodies attacks the virus. Photo by Kateryna Kon | Science Photo Library via Getty Images

The number of daily reported COVID-19 cases soared to more than 14,000 Monday, the second-most since the pandemic began, surpassed only by the 17,000 reported exactly one year ago

The large number of cases amid the surge of the omicron variant, which has been escalating in recent weeks, but the Arizona Department of Health Services said that the high number is also reflective of some cases not being processed on New Year’s Day. 

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Over the past week, the state has averaged 5,051 new cases of COVID-19 and 53 deaths per day. January 2021 holds the record as the worst month of the pandemic for the state, as the state grappled with a surge in cases through the winter months. 

It appears that a similar trend is happening to begin 2022, as case numbers continue to rise. Since Christmas, the 7-day average for COVID-19 cases has risen from 2,949 cases a day to more than 5,000. The surge is being driven by the highly infectious omicron variant, according to data from T-Gen. 

The research institute, which sequences genetic material from COVID-19 tests to see which variants of the virus are present in the state, provides the data on its website and breaks it down month by month

In November, no omicron variants were detected. But by Dec. 21, the variant made up nearly 8% of all samples. TGen’s testing finds that the deadly delta variant still makes up the vast majority of Arizona COVID-19 cases, but Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute has found that more than 87% of positive cases in late December showed the genetic marker unique in the omicron variant.

January 2020 was a record-breaking period for Arizona in regards to the number of cases for COVID-19 in the state, and it appears the state could be nearing that record again. From Jan. 3 to Jan. 9, 2021, the state reported 62,162 cases; in the past week days the state has reported more than half that number, according to data by John Hopkins University and Medicine

An independent analysis found COVID-19 to be the leading cause of death in the state in 2020.

An analysis of more than 120,000 hospitalizations over a four-month period in 2021 found that the majority of those hospitalized were unvaccinated and those who had been vaccinated who had breakthrough infections were mostly elderly individuals who had other complications. Still, fewer vaccinated individuals required interventions such as ventilators or experienced respiratory failure, unlike their unvaccinated counterparts.

Additionally, a report released by the Arizona Department of Health Services found that unvaccinated individuals were 3.9 times more likely to contract COVID and 15.2 times more likely to die from the virus in October.

The vast majority of Arizona’s elderly population is vaccinated against the virus and Arizona’s vaccination rate sits currently at 58% of the state being fully vaccinated, putting the state in 29th place for it’s vaccination rate by population.

Anyone seeking a vaccination can find vaccine information online for Maricopa County here and statewide here.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.

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