PHOENIX — The number of deaths in Arizona is climbing for a second time from COVID-19 and state officials are now reporting more than 500 deaths a week since the beginning of December.
ABC15 has been tracking the timeline of deaths since the first death was reported and in the past 10 days, 1,000 deaths have been added to the state's COVID-19 dashboard.
December 9, 2020: 7,000 confirmed deaths
December 22, 2020: 8,000 confirmed deaths
January 1, 2021: 9,000 confirmed deaths
The Arizona Department of Health Services added more than 600 deaths the week of December 13 -- exceeding predictions from researchers with the University of Arizona.
In mid-December, Dr. Joe Gerald warned, by Christmas, Arizona will experience more than 500 deaths a week, although that might not be apparent until mid-January when all deaths are accounted for.
The latest information from ADHS shows that since the first week of December we have had more than 500 deaths, even surpassing 600 deaths in one week -- the same number we saw during the summer surge in July.
"I don't know what's going on, but who is going to save us?," asked Dr. Shad Marvasti, who teaches at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
Marvasti said we can expect deaths to continue to climb in Arizona, "maybe people think, and maybe the state leadership thinks the vaccine will save us, and the reality is the vaccine is not going to save us right now, the vaccine will hopefully help people and eventually save folks down the line," said Dr. Marvasti.
A total of about 80,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Arizona as of January 1, according to a release from ADHS.
Earlier this week, Dr. Cara Christ said that by the end of the week we will have received around 314,000 first doses of the vaccine, which means Arizona has administered around 25% of what has been received.
“Our partners operating vaccine administration sites and programs statewide have done a fantastic job,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, “But, we can’t be satisfied when any dose of COVID-19 vaccine is in a freezer rather than protecting Arizonans. ADHS and local partners are continuously working to increase access to vaccine and get more and more people vaccinated.”
ADHS says there are currently 70 vaccination sites operating and more planned to open next week across the state.
The press releases said it hopes to begin Phase 1B of the vaccine distribution by the end of January in most counties. That group prioritizes teachers, childcare staff, protective services workers, and individuals 75 and older.
The rollout of the vaccine in Arizona has been slow, but state leaders say the number will increase as soon as next week. However, public health experts say those vaccines will not help slow down the immediate current spread of COVID-19 as we have not seen any new mitigation measures in place.
“What’s really mind-boggling about this whole situation is the fact that you had experts, scientific experts, public health and epidemiology experts from all three state universities publicly showing models of what's going to happen if we don't do anything, and we’re basically seeing that each one of those models from all three state universities were like prophecy," said Dr. Marvasti, "They basically predicted everything that's happening right now.”