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Health officials recommend boosters as AZ sees slight increase in COVID hospitalizations

After several weeks of  improvements, Arizona’s latest COVID-19 numbers show virus transmission may be increasing again in the state.

In its  weekly update Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 4,813 COVID-19 cases — more than twice as many as the state saw  two weeks ago. And the positivity rate among tests reported in the state has risen to 14% after having hovered around 10% throughout September.

“Hospitalizations decreased for nine weeks straight. Those saw a slight increase in the last two weeks," said Eugene Livar, the department's assistant director for public health preparedness. "It’s still negligible at this point. But it is something that we want to keep an eye on.”  

Livar said there is no way to predict how high this winter’s COVID-19 cases might climb, but he said Arizonans should take advantage of updated booster vaccines sooner rather than later.

“By getting that bivalent booster now, you can let it have time to build up immunity within your system, so that you can be ready to go and enjoy some of these different holiday situations and scenarios that may be upcoming," Livar said. 

The updated boosters are available to Arizonans 5 and older who have already had the primary vaccine series. The department reports about 460,000 Arizonans have received the new booster since it came out in early September — that's less than 10% of those who are eligible. 

Vaccine locations statewide are listed at  azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent. She has produced work for NPR, New England Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, PRI's The World, Washington Post, Reuters and more.She has a master’s degree in radio journalism from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism.She lives in central Phoenix with her husband, two daughters, and ill-behaved cat and dog. Her side-passions include photography, crosswords and hot sauce.