Arizona sees over 14,000 new virus cases, most in a year as testing demand spikes

Arizona health officials on Jan. 3 reported the highest number of new COVID-19 in exactly a year.

The 14,192 new cases were the most ever tallied in a day except for Jan. 3, 2020, when more than 17,000 cases were counted. The state Health Services Department said the new case count was boosted by lower than normal reporting on Sunday, when just 701 new cases were reported.

However, the state said there has been a steep upward trend of cases in recent days.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Arizona has risen sharply over the past two weeks from 2,945 new cases per day on Dec. 18 to 5,051 new cases per day on Jan. 1.

The state reported no new deaths on Monday and just one on Sunday, bringing the total number of people who died from the virus in Arizona since the pandemic began in early 2020 to 24,355. Johns Hopkins data shows the rolling average of deaths has declined from 60 per day on Dec. 18 to 53 per day on Jan. 1.

COVID-19 testing lines similar to the start of the pandemic

Corinne Jacobson from Mesa said on Jan. 3, "It seems like everyone around me is going down with COVID, so we’re just, me and my little guy, are getting checked out."

After almost two years since our first COVID-19 case in the state – we’re still dealing with long lines for testing, and cases reaching new highs.

"It seems like there’s been a lot of waves, so maybe it’s another wave. I don’t know. I honestly don’t know what to think – sometimes I’m worried, sometimes I’m not," she said.

Dr. Carmen Hill-Mekoba, chief nursing officer with Embry Health says, "So we are at our highest test demand. We are doing about 30,000 a day. I’m sure today we may exceed that."

The CEO of Embry Health issued an emergency order for the company this week, authorizing triple time pay for five of their busiest sites. He said in a tweet that those locations are "being crushed by unprecedented demand."

"This is the busiest it’s been in a while. We’ve seen it progressively go up over the last few days when the holidays hit, so we have to be ready to anticipate even more volumes if needed," Hill-Mekoba said.

Many people waiting in line say they’re getting tested before going back to work, school, or returning after the holiday weekend. Some say they’ve waited almost two hours for a test.

"We left a little early expecting a line so just trying to be proactive with that and just getting in and getting out as quickly as we can," said Jennifer Churley.

Pedro Cruz says, "Last time it took me about 30 minutes. Now it’s like two hours."

Dr. Frank LoVecchio emergency room doctor at Valleywise Health talks about the challenges the health care industry is facing as we experience another virus spike.

"We don’t have enough physical space and the other aspect, of course, that we’ve been fighting all pandemic is the lack of nurses, the lack of staff," LoVecchio said.

Emergency room wait times are getting worse, and Valleywise Health says most patients they see are not vaccinated.

"We are seeing long waits. These are the longest waits I’ve seen in the emergency department as far as I can remember since the pandemic began. People are waiting commonly three or four hours to get seen. Unfortunately, if you do get admitted to the hospital, it’s not uncommon for you to wait one day in the emergency department for a bed to open up," LoVecchio explained.

Arizona COVID-19 resources, FAQ:

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



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