Arizona officially has the distinction of ranking second nationally for COVID deaths per capita, currently trailing Mississippi. The state has now surpassed 26,000 COVID-19 deaths and is averaging nearly 14,000 new cases per day. On Wednesday, there were 24 new COVID-19 related deaths and 8,329 new cases reported.
This information comes from the New York Times Coronavirus Map and Case Count as well as the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) COVID-19 data dashboard.
According to Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, Arizona is about two or three weeks away from surpassing Mississippi in COVID-19 deaths per capita and will also take the title for increases in all-cause mortality and will remain the only state in which COVID-19 is the leading cause of death.
The number of hospital inpatients with COVID-19 is falling, according to KTAR, and has been for five consecutive days. Arizona hospitals had 3,255 confirmed or suspected inpatients on Tuesday, which accounts for an 8.5% drop from the peak reached last Thursday.
ADHS Interim Director Don Herrington applauded the Food and Drug Administration’s approval for the COVID-19 vaccine’s use in those aged 18 and older. From the Director’s Blog:
Millions of Arizonans have already received these free and highly effective vaccines. If their track record for safety and effectiveness hasn’t been enough to make you want to get vaccinated, I hope full approval for the Moderna vaccine will provide even more confidence in the decision to get this lifesaving protection.
Federal health officials announced that a team of 15 medical providers and support staff would be deployed to temporarily help Canyon Vista Medical Center in Sierra Vista. KNAU reports that the team of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other advanced healthcare professionals from the National Disaster Medical System will serve 14 days per deployment.
The Center for Covid Control, a nationwide testing company that has five locations in Arizona, is facing a lawsuit from Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The company is accused of “contributing to the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus” by failing to provide accurate test results to patients, according to AZFamily. The Arizona Attorney General’s office is also looking into the company.
Governor Ducey Argues His Case on Preparedness and Mask Mandate Funding Battle
Last week, Governor Doug Ducey announced that he would sue the federal government in order to retain the $173 million provided to Arizona through the American Rescue Plan Act. According to KJZZ, the U.S. Department of Treasury has requested that the funds be returned and are threatening to withhold future federal aid. At the moment, the ARPA funding is only going to schools that are operating in person without mask mandates and charter school vouchers for parents who want to remove their children from schools that require masks.
The governor criticized President Biden’s pandemic response on Fox News on Tuesday, arguing that the president is unable to handle the pandemic without listening to states. From Governor Ducey, via KJZZ:
Every Republican state has handled this differently. They have protected lives, livelihoods, and individual liberties and it’s working.
Again, Arizona is second in the country to Mississippi for COVID-19 deaths per capita and there are currently no statewide mitigation policies to combat the surge related to the Omicron variant.
There are several proposed bills that would curb the authority of the governor and mayors in times of a public health emergency currently active in the Arizona State Legislature. Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale) introduced Senate Bill 1009, which would put a cap on limiting a governor’s emergency powers to 120 days without legislative approval. The bill would also require the governor to declare an emergency 30 days at a time. Following the 120 day emergency period, the Legislature would need to take action to extend it.
Senator Ugenti-Rita accused the governor of abusing his emergency powers by instituting closures early on in the pandemic and continuing the state of emergency for two years. Via AZCentral:
I think there’s a sentiment out there that there’s a misuse on the mild end, and abuse on the severe end, of these powers. These are not designed to govern in perpetuity, and that’s what he’s doing. There’s no end in sight.
LISTEN: AZCentrals’s podcast “The Gaggle” on bills that could affect schools’ ability to defend students and faculty against COVID-19.
House Bill 2198 from Republican Representative Steve Kaiser aims to protect healthcare workers who were fired for not adhering to the vaccine mandates instituted by their employers. According to AZFamily, the bill would protect them under any exemption and would require an employer to pay the amount of the employee’s annual salary in one lump sum or installments over 12 months.
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