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Arizona reports another week of rising COVID-19 cases

For the sixth week in a row, Arizona’s health department is reporting an increase in COVID-19 infections. The Arizona Department of Health Services added 14,677 new cases and 40 deaths to its dashboard in its  weekly update Wednesday

More than 2,000 Arizonans have been testing positive for COVID-19 per day recently, but experts believe that’s only the  tip of the iceberg since more people are using at-home tests. Among tests recorded at Arizona's public testing sites, 23% have recently been positive. That’s one of the highest positivity rates since the start of the pandemic. 

Hospitalizations in Arizona are continuing a slow increase, but are still relatively low. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services  reports 3.5% of the state’s ICU beds are currently 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.  

Dr. Saskia Popescu, an Arizona-based infectious disease epidemiologist,  told KJZZ’s The Show hospitalizations have been low during this wave due to the effectiveness of vaccines, but she said that may not hold true in future surges.

“That’s what I think we’re very concerned about for this winter, where the appetite for staying up-to-date and getting your third or fourth dose is waning,” Popescu said.

Popescu said booster doses are critical for keeping the virus under control. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  reports just 43% of eligible Arizonans have had their first booster dose. Among Arizonans 50 and older who have had their first booster, just 24% have had the recommended second booster.  

Arizona coronavirus cases, deaths

Get the latest news on COVID-19 in Arizona 

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