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Unvaccinated Arizonans Remain Large Majority Of State's COVID-19 Hospitalizations

Arizona reported more than 91,000 COVID-19 cases in the month of August. Nearly 87% of those infections were among Arizonans who were not fully vaccinated. 

While thousands of vaccinated Arizonans have now had breakthrough cases of COVID-19, it’s still very rare for vaccinated people to need hospitalization, medical experts say.

“It certainly continues to be the single best tool that we have to help us through the pandemic," Dr. Michael White, chief clinical officer with Valleywise Health told reporters Wednesday.

The  Arizona Department of Health Services reports 92% of Arizonans recently admitted to hospitals for COVID-19 and 93% of those who have recently died from the virus were unvaccinated.

Arizona is currently averaging more than 3,000 new COVID-19 infections per day. The state's hospital ICU beds are 91% full. COVID-19 hospital admissions in the state have begun to slow down after surging exponentially throughout July and August. But modeling suggests Arizona’s current wave is not over, Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer with Banner Health, said Wednesday.

“It predicts that we will experience substantial increases in the upcoming months,” Bessel said. 

Bessel said increasing the state's vaccination rate is the best way to prevent further strain on hospitals.

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Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.