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Renewed calls for vaccinations, boosters as Arizona enters winter COVID-19 surge

Joshua LaBaer
Arizona State University
Joshua LaBaer

More than 22,000 people in Arizona have died from COVID-19. Now, following an autumn marked by steady-but-high rates, cases in the state are surging — just in time for the holidays.

Arizona hospital and ICU usages have reached annual highs, even beating out the summer surge.

Breakthrough infections make up about one-third of new cases, but unvaccinated Arizonans account for most hospitalizations.

They’re also five to six times more likely to transmit the virus, according to Dr. Joshua LaBaer, who leads ASU’s Biodesign Institute.  

“There’s a lot of people in the state who are still yet to be vaccinated. That means that there's a lot of, if you will, dry kindling wood,” he said. 

LaBaer recommends everyone get vaccinated or obtain a booster to blunt the winter surge.

He adds people should get tested before attending large holiday gatherings. 

Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ from 2016 to 2024.