Governor Ducey gets vaccine as Arizona coronavirus death toll tops 16,000

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday received a vaccination against COVID-19 with the state health director administering the shot at a mass vaccination site in Glendale a day after the state allowed people as young as age 55 to get the vaccine.

The governor tweeted photos after he got the first of two needed shots during an unannounced visit to State Farm Stadium. The 56-year-old Republican previously said he would not "jump the line" to take a coronavirus vaccine but would wait until it was his turn.

Ducey’s inoculation came as Arizona’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 16,000 on March 2 and the state reported 81 additional deaths and 849 additional confirmed infection cases. The daily increase in newly confirmed cases was the smallest in three months.

The latest figures reported by the state Department of Health Services increased the state’s pandemic totals to 818,670 confirmed cases and 16,080 deaths.

The state’s seven-day rolling averages of daily new cases and daily deaths sank over the past two weeks, while the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations also continued to drop.

The rolling average of daily new cases dropped from 2,245.9 on Feb. 15 to 1,192.4 on Monday and the rolling average of daily deaths declined from 131.9 to 79.7 during the same period, according to The COVID Tracking Project data.

As of Monday, 1,202 COVID-19 patients occupied Arizona hospital inpatient beds, the lowest number since Nov. 7 and down from the pandemic high of 5,802 set on Jan. 11.

The number of 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.

MORE: How to sign up and schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment

In another development, a Yuma County official said Monday that Arizona in mid-March may open a state-run COVID-19 vaccination site at the Yuma Civic Center.

The county official, Emergency Management Director Tony Badilla, met Friday with state Department of Emergency Management and Military Affairs officials and city police and fire officials, the Yuma Sun reported.

The state now operates vaccination sites in metro Phoenix and in Tucson.

The state announced Monday that it was opening vaccinations to people ages 55 and older while also allowing front-line essential workers to get the vaccine.

The state plans to release 50,000 new vaccination appointments at State Farm Stadium and Phoenix Municipal Stadium at noon on Tuesday. Vaccines for those age 55 and up will also be available at pharmacies and federally qualified health centers participating in federal vaccination programs.

"This vaccine is safe, effective and free," Ducey said in a statement. "I’m proud to join the more than 1.2 million Arizonans who have already received the vaccine, and I encourage everyone who is eligible to sign up for a vaccination appointment. It’s the best way you can protect yourself and your family, while getting our kids back to school and bringing jobs back to Arizona."

MORE: Arizonans 55 and older now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

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

Continuing Coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic: 

Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers

MORE: Maricopa County COVID-19 vaccine status updates

MORE: Arizona Dept. of Health COVID-19 vaccine prioritization

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

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.