On second anniversary, COVID-19 still racks up grim milestones in Arizona

Expanded testing is just one of the measures being taken in hopes of reining in COVID-19, which was first confirmed in Arizona two years ago. Since then, almost 1.8 million cases have been confirmed in the state and 25,899 deaths have been attributed to the coronavirus. /File photo by Kasey Brammell/Cronkite News

By Camila Pedrosa/Cronkite News

Expanded testing is just one of the measures being taken in hopes of reining in COVID-19, which was first confirmed in Arizona two years ago. Since then, almost 1.8 million cases have been confirmed in the state and 25,899 deaths have been attributed to the coronavirus. (File photo by Kasey Brammell/Cronkite News)

 Two years after Arizona’s first confirmed case of COVID-19, the state has racked up close to 1.8 million infections and the virus has killed almost 26,000, just two of many grim milestones on the pandemic’s “really long journey.”

The rate of COVID-19 deaths in the state is currently second-highest in the nation, according to federal data, and more than 100,000 people in Arizona have been hospitalized with the disease since Jan. 26, 2020. More than 10.5 million vaccine doses have been administered – but transmission rates in Arizona and across the country remain high.

It’s a disease that one expert said has had “a staggering effect” in a short amount of time.

“I realized … this is the first time that I’ve ever seen a new disease enter the pantheon of human diseases that has had such an incredibly profound effect on the health of so many people,” said Dr. Joshua LaBaer, executive director of the Arizona State University Biodesign Institute, in a news briefing Wednesday.

COVID-19 deaths in the past week alone totaled 483, which LaBaer said was the highest weekly total since the start of the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that Arizona’s COVID-19 death rate was 352 per 100,000 residents, second only to Mississippi’s 360 deaths per 100,000. And that was before Arizona reported 275 deaths Wednesday, which could push the state into a tie with Mississippi.

Arizona health officials cautioned against comparing the state to others, saying the “apples-to-apples data needed to do this isn’t available at this time.” Besides the fact that different states use different reporting methods and that CDC data is not age-adjusted, they said the data used for daily COVID-19 updates is not the same as the official count that will be drawn from the cause of death on death certificates.

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