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State reports highest number of COVID-19 deaths since February

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Posted at 9:57 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 00:57:46-04

PHOENIX — Valleywise Medical Center is currently treating 30 COVID patients. Officials say twelve are in the intensive care unit and none are vaccinated.

“We certainly aren’t seeing the exponential growth that we were seeing a couple of weeks ago which is reassuring and positive that we may be coming to the other side of this current surge,” said Dr. Michael White, Chief Clinical Officer for Valleywise Medical Center.

On Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 117 more people died from COVID-19 in Arizona. It is the highest single-day report since February.

But COVID deaths are a lagging indicator. More a snapshot of what damage the pandemic caused and not so much an indicator of what the virus is doing now.

ABC15 Data Guru Garrett Archer believes the high number of reported deaths are due to death certificate matching.

Will Humble, the Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association agrees but adds, “It doesn’t mean there were 117 deaths yesterday, but you asked if it was alarming, of course it is! I mean each one of those deaths was preventable,” Humble said.

More than 3.6 million Arizonans are fully vaccinated. The Arizona Department of Health Services reports for the year, 121 of the state’s 19,304 COVID deaths are the result of breakthrough cases. That’s when someone was already vaccinated. Nearly half of the people hospitalized are under the age of 54.

The Maricopa County Health Department recently reported one in four children are infected with COVID.

“We’ve been riding this plateau and we have not seen the downturn I would like to see yet. But it’s starting to head in the right direction,” Dr. White said.

Dr. White says the total number of patients being admitted to Valleywise is up, more than usual for this time of year. So he’s hoping the number of COVID cases continues to trends downward. Flu season, after all, is upon us.