Arizona reports over 100 COVID-19 deaths; death toll now over 7,000

Arizona’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 7,000 on Dec. 9 as the state reported over 100 additional fatalities from the virus.

The state reported 4,444 additional COVID-19 cases and 108 additional deaths, increasing the state’s known totals to 382,601 cases and 7,081 deaths.

The number of COVID-19 infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

The Department of Health Services said on Twitter that “a large percentage” of the 108 deaths reported Wednesday were due to reviewing past death certificates and determining that deaths were due to COVID-19. That periodic process results in a larger than normal daily report of deaths.

The department did not elaborate on how many of the 108 deaths involved certificate reviews or immediately reply to a request for further details about the deaths.

According to the state’s coronavirus dashboard, COVID-19-related hospitalizations as of Tuesday reached 3,287, up 130 from Monday and including 766 patients in intensive care unit beds.

The dashboard indicated that 10% of both all hospital beds and of ICU beds in hospitals statewide were vacant, with COVID-19 patients occupying 44% of the ICU beds and non-COVID patients 46%.

Hospital officials and public health experts have warned that the current surge could exceed the health system’s capacity.

Gov. Doug Ducey has imposed restrictions that closed some establishments and required distancing and other precautions to stop the spread of the coronavirus. But he hasn’t ordered a statewide mask mandate, a new stay-home requirement, or curfews although many local governments have been imposing masking requirements and a few have ordered curfews.

Rolling seven-day averages for daily new cases, daily deaths and COVID-19 testing positivity all increased in the past two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University and The COVID Tracking Project data.

The rolling average for daily cases rose from 3,853 on Nov. 24 to 5,860 on Tuesday, when the state reported a record 12,314 new known cases after reporting over 5,000 cases on five of the previous seven days.

The rolling average for daily deaths rose from 29 on Nov. 24 to 40.9 on Tuesday while the positivity rolling average rose from 19.9% to 30.1%.

Hospital officials report concerning numbers on capacity

As COVID-19 continues to spread across Arizona, hospitals across the state are reaching their limits as COVID patients continue to fill up beds.

Across the state, Intensive Care Units are near 100% capacity, and hospitals are struggling to find enough staffing, mainly nurses and respiratory therapists.

In Pima County, officials there say hospitals in the county have hit capacity, and they are asking people to stay at home if they can, especially if they are sick.

In Phoenix, Valleywise Hospital is at the brink of capacity.

"For ICU this morning, I have one available ICU bed, which means we’re at 98% capacity this morning," said Valleywise Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Michael White. "If we had more staff, we’d be able to have additional ICU capacity."

Dr. White says Valleywise currently has 10 unstaffed ICU beds.

Meanwhile, Banner Health's ICUs are also reaching capacity.

"We expect to 100% capacity on Dec. 15, and 125% capacity on Dec. 18," said Banner Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel.

Banner recently hired more than 2,000 temporary workers, including critical care nurses and respiratory therapists, and need to hire at least 400 more. COVID patients require a team of providers, and their average stay is two weeks.

"They require more care, they stay in the hospital longer, our employees have to wear PPE. They are very difficult patients to care for," said Dr. Bessel.

Healthcare officials and researchers are all calling on Gov. Ducey and state leaders to do more now to prevent hospitals from becoming overloaded and going into crisis mode.

"Stop indoor dining, no gatherings more than 25 persons, stop group athletic activities including club sports, and put a curfew in place," said Dr. Bessel.

"This is not the time to invite neighbors over for dinner. This is not the time to have sporting events. All those things are gong to spread the virus," said Arizona State University Biodesign Institute Executive Director, Dr. Joshua LaBaer.

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In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Monitor your health daily

MAP: Worldwide interactive Coronavirus case data

MAP: Arizona Coronavirus cases by zip code


CDC: How coronavirus spreads, symptoms, prevention, treatment, FAQ

Arizona COVID-19 resources, FAQ:

On, you'll find extensive coverage about COVID-19, including breaking news from around the country, exclusive interviews with health officials, and informative content from a variety of public health resources.

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 


Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus, but may put you in a better position to fight it.

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.