Arizona reported 845 new COVID-19 cases and 30 new known deaths on Friday as the state continues to fare better than most of the country in terms of recent new cases.
A total of 852,570 COVID-19 cases have been identified across the state. February, March and April have seen relatively lower case reports.
Hospitalizations for the disease have been generally dropping for about 13 weeks.
Follow coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic by Republic and USA TODAY Network reporters here.
The White House announced plans Friday to invest $1.7 billion in genomic sequencing – the process of mapping a virus’ genetic code – to help states detect and curb the spread of COVID-19 variants.
The funding comes from President Joe Biden’s nearly $2 trillion relief package and will be used to collect COVID samples, sequence the virus and share data, according to a White House fact sheet. The first portion of the funding will be allocated in early May through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The money will be used toward collecting COVID samples, sequencing of the virus and sharing subsequent data, according to a fact sheet provided by the White House.
Until recently, only a fraction of samples in the U.S. were sequenced, but the Biden administration invested $200 million on sequencing, quadrupling the rate of testing beginning in mid-February.
The investment also includes $400 million to establish six “Centers of Excellence in Genomic Epidemiology,” a partnership between state health departments and academic institutions for research and development, and $300 million to create a national bioinformatics system to share and analyze sequencing data. The administration will allocate the first portion of funding in early May, with a second tranche expected to be invested over the next several years.
– Courtney Subramanian, USA Today
Terros Health and the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired will host a separate COVID-19 vaccine event for people who are blind and visually impaired, whom advocates say have been overlooked during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These are individuals who have been especially vulnerable to the virus because they use their hands to get around,” said Lisa Noble, a spokesperson for Terros Health, in a statement.
“Social distancing has been a challenge. And without a companion, they are unable to register for vaccines, let alone sign consent forms. Many members of this population also are living with a combined vision and hearing loss, making them even more vulnerable.
The event comes after community organizations have held separate COVID-19 vaccine events for people in underserved communities and people with disabilities.
The organizations will provide free vaccines to people at the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, located at 3100 E. Roosevelt St. in Phoenix, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday.
The center will also help people with vision loss or vision and hearing loss to register for the vaccine online or on the phone and connect people to transportation resources, the statement said. The center can also communicate in American Sign Language and has materials to explain the process step-by-step.
Registration assistance is available at email@example.com or 602-273-7411.
— Audrey Jensen
The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry continue to offer COVID-19 vaccines to inmates both at its state-run and private prison facilities.
ADCRR has received 19,980 doses thus far from the Arizona Department of Health Services, according to an ADCRR statement released Friday.
ADCRR has administered 13,903 vaccines at 10 state prison complexes to date and the private prisons have administered 4,233 vaccines, the statement said.
COVID-19 data continues to be updated on ADCRR’s dashboard at: corrections.az.gov/adcrr-covid-19-dashboard
For the latest regarding ADCRR’s COVID-19 management strategy, please visit: corrections.az.gov/covid-19-management-updates.
— Peiyu Lin
Following a national report of so-called “breakthrough” cases of COVID-19 infection occurring after someone has been vaccinated, the Arizona Department of Health Services said the number of such cases statewide as of Friday is 495.
State health officials say there have been no deaths reported among those cases, and 13% of the patients have been hospitalized, though it’s unknown whether they were hospitalized for COVID-19-related problems or for something else.
Both state and federal officials stress that breakthrough cases are rare when taken in the context of the number of people who have been vaccinated, and that COVID-19 vaccines continue to be an important tool in ending the pandemic. In Arizona, about 1.8 million people have been fully vaccinated, state data shows.
“Vaccines are a safe and effective public health tool, critical to stopping the spread of illness and preventing severe disease and death from COVID-19,” ADHS spokeswoman Holly Poynter wrote in an email.
The CDC defines a breakthrough case as a person who has tests positive for new coronavirus on a respiratory specimen collected more than 14 days after completing the recommended series of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-authorized COVID-19 vaccine.
Arizona’s breakthrough cases, by specific vaccine:
- Pfizer: 349
- Moderna: 139
- Johnson & Johnson: 7
The CDC this week said that it had received 5,814 reports of vaccine breakthrough infections from 43 U.S. states and territories through April 13, including 396 hospitalizations and 74 deaths. Of the deaths, nine were reported as asymptomatic or the patient died due to a cause not related to COVID-19, CDC officials said.
Hospitalizations and deaths that are not a direct result of COVID-19 are still considered vaccine breakthrough cases if the person was fully vaccinated and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, according to the federal agency.
Health officials are still investigating whether the breakthrough infections are related to new coronavirus variants in circulation.
“We do know that the vaccines are still effective against the variants that we are seeing,” state health director Dr. Cara Christ said during a Friday briefing. “But it could just be that we’ve given a lot of the vaccines, we know that no vaccine is 100%.”
— Stephanie Innes & Alison Steinbach
About 41% of Maricopa County residents ages 15 and older had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to this week’s county data as of Tuesday.
That amounts to about one in three of all county residents vaccinated with at least one dose. Statewide, about 37% of Arizona’s population had received at least one dose, according to state data.
Experts say around 70% or more of the population needs to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity and prevent future outbreaks.
Maricopa County continues to report strong results in vaccinating older individuals. About 79% of those 75 and older have received at least one dose and 76% of those 65-74, according to the county data as of Tuesday.
About 55% percent of residents ages 55-64 have received at least one dose, 37% of those 45-54, 33% of those 35-44, 26% of those 25-34 and 18% of those 15-24. Most people in the younger age groups only became eligible to start registering for vaccine appointments at the end of March.
A week ago, the percentages for younger groups were: 32% of those 45-54, 28% of those 35-44, 22% of those 25-34 and 14% of those 15-24. County officials say nearly 80% of residents who received their first dose in the last week were younger than 55.
Countywide, nearly 975,000 residents were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Tuesday.
In terms of race, the data continues to show some disparities. About 31% of white residents 15 and older had received at least one shot, compared with about 23% of Black adult county residents. Two groups were above the countywide average: about 51% of American Indian or Alaska Native adult residents had received at least one shot, and about 47% of Asian or Pacific Islander adults.
About 13% of Hispanic/Latino adult county residents had gotten at least one shot, up from 11% last week, but ethnicity data is unknown for 54% of all vaccinated individuals.
County residents ages 16 and older can sign up for vaccine appointments at a range of pharmacies, health clinics and large state-run sites. County officials continue to coordinate smaller community-based events. More information is available at Maricopa.gov/covid19vaccine.
— Alison Steinbach
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that out of more than 75 million fully vaccinated Americans, just 5,800 have had post-vaccine COVID-19 infections — or so-called breakthrough infections.
So far, just over 40% of the breakthrough infections were in people 60 or older and 65% were female, Kristen Nordlund of CDC Public Affairs said.
Nearly 30% of those with such infections had no symptoms at all. But 7% were hospitalized, she said, and just 1% died.
— Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY
Community organizations are hosting a vaccination event at the Phoenix Sunnyslope Senior Center on Saturday as part of their continued effort to vaccinate underserved populations.
The HeroZona and Equality Health Foundations will offer first doses of the Moderna vaccine from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The two-dose Moderna vaccine will be administered instead of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to the federal recommendation to pause the use of that vaccine.
The event will provide 1,000 vaccines by appointment for those 18 and older. Individuals can call a bilingual service line to register, at 888-587-3647.
The senior center is located at 802 E. Vogel Ave., in Phoenix.
Those at the event also will be offered free COVID-19 testing from Sonora Quest Laboratories and food boxes for families that need them, provided by Grand Canyon University and CityServe.
The event Saturday is the fourth held by the OneCommunity Initiative, which has a focus on reaching diverse and underserved groups and making sure vaccines are distributed fairly. The group’s third event was April 10 at South Mountain Community College, which is now expected to be a permanent vaccine site.
“With three successful vaccination events under our belts, we want the community to know that we’re still here with these life-saving resources and to help them understand why getting the shot is both safe and necessary,” Alan “AP” Powell, founder of HeroZona, said in a statement.
— Alison Steinbach
Almost 6,000 “breakthrough cases” of Americans becoming infected with the coronavirus despite vaccination have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – far less than 1% of the 76 million Americans who are fully vaccinated.
The CDC, in an email to USA TODAY, said almost 400 of the 5,800 cases required hospitalization and 74 died. More than 40% of the infections were in people 60 or over, 65% were female, and 29% were asymptomatic, the CDC said.
“All of the available vaccines have been proven effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said. “However, like is seen with other vaccines, we expect thousands of vaccine breakthrough cases will occur even though the vaccine is working as expected.”
Infections despite vaccination were anticipated – the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines have proved to be more than 90% effective and the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine about 70%. But no vaccine is 100% effective, experts say.
The CDC still recommends that people who have been fully vaccinated take precautions in public places, like wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces and washing their hands often.
“Vaccine breakthrough infections make up a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated,” Nordlund said. “CDC recommends that all eligible people get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is available to them.”
—John Baconand Elinor Aspegren, USA Today
State health officials are ramping up efforts to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine through a new PSA campaign.
The public service announcement campaign called “Roll Up Your Sleeve to Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19” shows community leaders, local celebrities and other influencers inspiring people to get vaccinated, according to an Arizona Department of Health Services news release.
Among those featured are: Dr. Cara Christ, ADHS director; Pastor Sheriolyn Curry, presiding elder of Rocky Mountain District at African Methodist Episcopal Church; David Adame, president and CEO of Chicanos Por La Causa; and Alan “AP” Powell, founding chairman of the HEROZONA Foundation.
Also taking part in the campaign are: Dr. Cecilia Rosales, associate dean of the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; John Goodie, an Arizona high school football coach and community leader; Luis “Gonzo” Gonzalez of the Arizona Diamondbacks; Tom Chambers of the Phoenix Suns; Vaughn Willis, an Arizona-based R&B musician; and Gov. Doug Ducey.
“I want to thank our partners and community leaders for coming together to help promote this important message about getting vaccinated,” Christ said in the release. “I encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they can as new appointments become available.”
The Arizona influencers PSA is part of a series that encourages vaccinations statewide. The current PSAs are running on broadcast and cable television as well as on social media, and they feature Gov. Ducey, Christ and a Spanish version with Adame.
— Mike Cruz
The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending the U.S. pause on using the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after reports of blood clots in individuals who received the vaccine.
The health agencies released a statement on Tuesday morning recommending the pause “out of an abundance of caution,” saying blood clots still seem to be “extremely rare.” So far, the CDC and FDA are reviewing six reported cases in the U.S.
All six recipients were women between the ages of 18 and 48, with symptoms occurring 6 to 13 days after vaccination, according to the statement. One woman died and one has been hospitalized in critical condition, the New York Times reported.
Johnson & Johnson released a statement on Tuesday saying it also was reviewing the cases with European health authorities and has decided to delay the rollout of its vaccine in Europe.
“The safety and well-being of the people who use our products is our No. 1 priority,” read the company statement. “We have been working closely with medical experts and health authorities, and we strongly support the open communication of this information to healthcare professionals and the public.”
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will hold a meeting on Wednesday to analyze the cases. The FDA said it will review the committee’s analysis as it also investigates the cases.
“Until that process is complete, we are recommending this pause,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC and Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said in a joint statement. “This is important to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.”
— Adrianna Rodriguez/USA Today
Employees at Pleasant Pediatrics, a local medical practice, said they are at risk of losing COVID-19 vaccine doses if they do not book more vaccination appointments.
Pleasant Pediatrics said they have already distributed over 30,000 vaccines but have recently seen a decrease in demand, leaving them with a surplus of doses that could expire.
Akshay Ravi of Pleasant Pediatrics told The Arizona Republic they get approximately 6,000 doses a week from Maricopa County but have only filled out approximately 4,000 appointments.
Ravi said they will be doing indoor appointments at five locations listed on their website seven days a week.
All five locations are open for vaccinations from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
The five locations are:
- 15715 S. 46th Street, Suite 102, Phoenix
- 9744 W. Northern Ave., Suite 1310, Peoria
- 9059 W. Lake Pleasant Pkwy., Suite E540, Peoria
- 9980 W. Glendale Ave., Suite 130, Glendale
- 10180 W. Happy Valley Pkwy., Peoria
While the state is vaccinating people age 16 and older, Pleasant Pediatrics administers the Moderna vaccine which is only approved for those 18 and older, according to Ravi. People between ages 16 and 18 should visit a state POD for a vaccine.
Pleasant Pediatrics recommends those interested in getting vaccinated use its online appointment booking system at PleasantPediatrics.com.
— Connor Van Ligten