Number of pandemic deaths in Arizona nearing 15,000

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A healthcare worker performs a COVID-19 test at a drive-thru testing center Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, in Phoenix. Arizona on Tuesday set a new daily record with over 12,300 additional known coronavirus cases as the number of hospitalized patients approached levels similar to the peak of last summer's surge, with the state's seven-day rolling average continuing to climb in the past two weeks as have the rolling averages for daily deaths and daily COVID-19 testing positivity. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona is on the cusp of reaching a pandemic death toll of 15,000.

State health officials on Tuesday reported 1,132 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths. That brings the overall number of cases in Arizona to 799,740 and the number of deaths to 14,981.

The number of new cases is lower compared to previous days. Some of that may be attributed to a lag in reporting because Monday was a holiday.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 patients who remain hospitalized and the number who are in the ICU continue to trend downward. According to the state dashboard, 2,047 people were hospitalized for the virus as of Monday. They amount to a 24% occupancy of all hospital beds. Around 600, or 34%, of all ICU beds are being used for COVID-19 patients.

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

Health officials say the coronavirus remains widespread across the state, but the surge that made Arizona the nation’s hot spot last month is receding.

The state, meanwhile, continues to expand its vaccine operation. The appointment registration system for a state-run vaccination site at the University of Arizona opened Tuesday. Only those in the current designated priority groups can book an appointment. The site will begin administering vaccines Thursday.

Gov. Doug Ducey said the site may operate around-the-clock once Arizona receives more vaccine doses.

Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.