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Arizona COVID-19 cases continue to increase

COVID-19 cases have been climbing in Arizona for five weeks now. But COVID-19 ICU bed use in the state's hospitals is remaining relatively low. 

The Arizona Department of Health Services added 13,042 cases to its COVID-19 dashboard in its  weekly update Wednesday. That total is almost certainly just a fraction of the state’s active infections, since fewer people are getting tested at public sites recently. Among tests that do get reported, positivity rates have soared to 19% — one of the highest levels since the pandemic began. 

Dr. Michael White, chief clinical officer with Valleywise Health, told KJZZ News a rise in cases is likely to mean more hospital visits in coming weeks.

“Certainly, the greater number of people that test positive for this disease is going to increase the chance that we’ll see an increase in hospitalizations,” White said.

But for now, White said, COVID-19 admissions at his hospital are hovering at a manageable level. 

“We really have not seen a tremendous increase in the number of individuals that are requiring hospitalization,” White said. "What I'm hoping is, through those things that we’ve done in the past — getting everybody that’s eligible to be vaccinated vaccinated, staying home if we’re not feeling well — we can avoid any large spike in hospitalizations.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services  reports less than 3% of Arizona's ICU beds are now occupied by COVID-19 patients. At the peak of this winter's surge, COVID-19 patients filled 40% of the state's ICU beds, according to the state health department. 

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