Arizona Records 500,000th Coronavirus Case

Published: Monday, December 28, 2020 - 10:45pm
Updated: Monday, December 28, 2020 - 10:52pm

Arizona reported its 500,000th case of COVID-19 Monday, as hospital admissions and ICU patients officially climbed above the previous highs from July.

There are over 1,000 Arizona ICU beds in use right now, beating July’s record of 976. That leaves less than 10% of the state’s ICU beds available, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Also surpassing July’s record is the case positivity rate. Twenty-eight percent of all COVID-19 tests are coming back positive — ahead of July’s 25%, according to ADHS. 

There are two good numbers, though. The first is the state’s transmission rate, or R-naught number. At 1.02, it’s the best that number has been since September. That means each positive case leads to 1.02 new infections. An R-naught number less than 1.00 means the disease is not actively spreading. Arizona's R-naught peaked at 1.15 in September and 1.25 in May.

The second good number is the state's vaccination rate. So far, more than 18,000 Arizonans have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. And there's a strong chance a third COVID-19 vaccine will be authorized for distribution in the next several days.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which regulators in the United Kingdom could authorize in the coming days, only needs to be refrigerated, not frozen — which means it will be a lot easier to distribute to the public, as former state health director Will Humble explains:

“It’s just a vaccine that can be in the refrigerator," Humble said. "Bottom line is, the AstraZeneca vaccine really lends itself to doctor’s offices and smaller clinical settings."

Initial testing results show the new vaccine is about 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections.

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