Urgent Updates: Transmission, Hospital Capacity, Vaccine, and Variant Information – Week of February 15th

Updated as of: 02-15-2021
Current Transmission Status: High


New reported cases per day within Arizona have decreased 58% compared to two weeks ago, but transmission is still very high across the state! Currently, per every 100,000 Arizonans, 10,761 have been infected with the virus. In the past week, there has been an average of 133 COVID-19 deaths per day. For regularly updated case counts and additional COVID-19 information by county, visit the Arizona Department of Health’s data dashboard summary page.

  • Please continue to stay home and take the necessary precautions (e.g., practicing hand hygiene, physical distancing, and wearing cloth face coverings) to prevent COVID-19. 
  • Remember that while interacting with others outdoors does reduce your likelihood of a COVID-19 infection compared to being indoors, it is still necessary to wear a cloth face covering and maintain physical distancing from anyone who is outside of your household.

Current Hospital Capacity: High Concern

Hospital capacity remains a major concern for Arizona. During the past week, there were an average of 4,421 COVID-19 patients in Arizona hospitals. Currently only 13% of ICU beds, 12% of in-patient beds, and 48% of emergency department hospital beds across the state are available for any incoming admissionsHealthcare workers are incredibly overwhelmed and have less time, resources, and staff to devote to usual care including elective medical and surgical procedures.

  • It is important to note that hospital capacity percentages only account for available beds and do not account for available staff members or resources, which are dwindling. 

However, it is still important to remember that if you or someone else is experiencing a medical emergency, you should seek emergency medical care immediately.

Visit this link and click on “Hospital Bed Usage & Availability” for updated information regarding hospital capacity in Arizona.

Vaccine Information:

Over 1,265,950 total doses (863,807 first doses) of the vaccines have been administered across Arizona! Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Navajo, Pinal, Yavapai, and Yuma counties are currently vaccinating those 65 and older. Each phase of the vaccine distribution plan and the phases that Arizona counties are in are outlined below:

Phase 1
County Phase

Phase 1A:
Healthcare Workers & Healthcare Support Occupations, Emergency Medical Services Workers, Long-term Care Facility Staff & Residents
Phase 1B Priority:Education & Childcare Workers, Protective Services Occupations, Adults 75 and older, Remaining 1ACochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Maricopa, Mohave, Yavapai, Yuma, Pima, Pinal
Phase 1B:Education & Childcare Workers, Protective Services Occupations, Adults 75 and older, Essential Services/ Critical Industry Workers, Adults with High-Risk Conditions in Congregate Settings, Remaining 1AApache, La Paz, Navajo, Santa Cruz
Phase 1C:Adults 65 and Older, Adults of Any Age with High-Risk Medical Conditions, Adults Living in Congregate Settings, Remaining 1A & 1B

Phase 2

Additional High-Risk/ Critical Populations, General Public, Remaining Phase 1 Populations

Phase 3
General Public, Remaining Phase 1 or 2 Populations

Non-residents (e.g., students and other people who reside in Arizona part-time) are eligible to receive the vaccine in Arizona. All Arizona residents can register to be vaccinated in their own county or in Phoenix. 

You may also sign up for an Arizona Vaccine Program secure portal account to schedule your vaccination appointment when it is your time to do so. Use Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome as your browser for best usability.


  • Brazil Variant (P.1): The first case of Brazil’s more contagious variant (P.1.) was reported in Minnesota. The case did have recent travel to Brazil.
  • UK Variant (B.1.1.7): This variant was confirmed in Arizona in travelers returning from abroad.  Evidence is suggesting that in addition to being more contagious than the original virus, the UK variant (B.1.1.7) may cause more serious disease. More research is needed on this variant. Despite currently comprising a very small proportion of cases in the US, it is increasing significantly. Fortunately, vaccines appear to still provide good levels of immunity against this strain. 
  • South African variant (501.v2 or B.1.351): Recently confirmed in South Carolina, California and Texas. Recent evidence indicates the AstraZeneca vaccine from the UK is not as effective against this variant. There is no information yet on how it impacts Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, the primary vaccines in the U.S. It is anticipated that there will still be some protection from severe hospitalization or death even if it is not as effective. 

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