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New COVID-19 infections in Arizona surge past 2,800; 382 cases in Yavapai County since Monday

PHOENIX — Arizona is seeing another significant leap in new COVID-19 infections, with more than 2,800 reported Friday while Yavapai County reports 382 new cases and six deaths since Monday.

The number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations in the state also continued to climb, with 1,309 patients. The state Department of Health Services dashboard showed 2,826 new confirmed cases and 42 deaths. The latest figures bring Arizona's pandemic totals to 940,762 cases and 18,342 deaths.

Public health experts say the highly transmissible delta variant is primarily what is driving surges in cases across the U.S.

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Yavapai Community Health Services/Courtesy

The Yavapai County deaths are attributed to ADHS review of death certificates. The county has tested 130,070 residents for COVID-19, and there have been 21,432 positive cases and 548 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. The county is experiencing a high transmission rate, with 14.1% positivity and over 200 cases per 100,000 in population. As of today, 40.1% of Yavapai County residents over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated. Yavapai Regional Medical Center reports 40 COVID-19 patients (28 in Prescott/12 in Prescott Valley), Verde Valley Medical Center reports 10 and the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System hospital in Prescott has 1 COVID-19 patient.

If you are experiencing fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, sore throat, loss of taste or small or bad cold, please get tested for COVID-19. There is a high demand for testing right now. Testing sites: https://yavapaiaz.gov/Portals/39/COVID-19/TestingSitesinYavapaiCounty.pdf.

The best way to avoid getting infected is to get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe, effective and free. Here are the best sources to contact to make an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccines:

YRMC: https://www.yrmc.org/support-and-community/covid-19/covid-19-vaccinations

Spectrum Healthcare: https://www.spectrumhealthcare-group.com/vaccine/ - 877-634-7333. Their Anywhere Care team can go to anyone's home and vaccinate them. You do not need to pre-register. Just call their dedicated line to schedule: 1-844-whereUr. (1-844-943-8273)

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Yavapai Community Health Services/Courtesy

Yavapai Community Health Services - 928-771-3122 for appointments, Phone Bank 442-5103. Vaccine Information Page: https://yavapaiaz.gov/chs/Home/COVID-19/COVID-19-Vaccine-Appointments.

The increase in infections statewide is fueling intense debate over Gov. Doug Ducey's ban on mask mandates in schools. The Republican this summer signed legislation that bans schools from requiring children to wear masks. The ban doesn't take effect until late September, but lawmakers declared it retroactive.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics have advised in recent weeks that everyone wear masks to schools in communities with substantial or high transmission of the virus.

Since most Arizona schools returned this week, eight districts have now made indoor masking mandatory in defiance of the law. All except for Tucson Unified are in the Phoenix area. It has prompted a lawsuit from a Phoenix biology teacher.

Ducey's office has said the mandates are not enforceable, and that wearing a mask is a personal choice.

More than 150 Arizona doctors on Thursday pushed back, sending a letter urging Ducey to mandate masks in public schools. In the past week, leaders at some of the state's major hospital systems warned they could be on the verge of another brutal surge. They also said most new patients were unvaccinated and skewing younger.

Brophy College Preparatory, a private, all-boys high school in Phoenix, will require everyone regardless of vaccine status to wear masks indoors when classes start Monday. Masks will then be optional starting Sept. 13. But that's when students and staff must be vaccinated or face weekly testing, according to a letter from the principal.

Any student who wants to participate in overnight retreats or school-related travel will have to show proof of vaccination. The Catholic, Jesuit high school, which counts Ducey's two sons as alumni, is not obligated to follow the state law.

Nationwide the thinking has been split, with some states banning mask mandates in public schools and others requiring it. Some are simply leaving it up to local school district officials, many of whom are exhausted by months of conflict over the matter.

Meanwhile, more than 6.9 million vaccine doses have now been administered in Arizona. Over 3.8 million people — or 53% of the eligible population — have gotten at least one dose. More than 3.3 million have gotten fully vaccinated.

Additional information provided by Yavapai Community Health Services.

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