Arizona reports record deaths, leads nation in new case rate

Posted at 1:28 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-06 20:45:46-05

PHOENIX — Arizona has reported a record number of additional COVID-19 deaths along with new hospitalization highs as cases surge in the state with the fastest-growing rate of new infections.

The Department of Health Services on Tuesday reported 253 more deaths, exceeding the previous one-day record of 172 in July.

The state also reported more than 5,900 additional COVID-19 cases, raising the state’s totals since the pandemic began to 567,474 cases and 9,317 deaths.

The department said the additional deaths included 215 newly attributed to COVID-19 through reviews of death certificates. A record 4,789 COVID-19 patients occupied hospital beds Monday.

Pete Phimphavong is among the thousands of grieving families in Arizona. He told ABC15 his mom, Lam, 80, died at a Valley hospital on New Year's day following a battle with COVID-19.

"I'm still pretty much in shock right now," he said. "I just know that she's in a better place."

Phimphavong said his mom first developed a sore throat several weeks ago, before ending up in the hospital and ultimately on a ventilator and complete life-support. He said the hospital allowed them to visit in-person on New Year's Day, when he and his family made the tough decision to take his mom off the ventilator.

"I was hoping if she heard my sister and [my] voice that she might pull through," Phimphavong said. "Unfortunately, it didn't happen."

Phimphavong described his mom as a strong woman and a good cook.

"I'm Laotian, Laotian-American from Laos," he said. "We have five kids in my family and my mom had to actually escape the country with five kids."

Like many families, the deadly pandemic has Phimphavong struggling to come to terms with the sudden passing of his mom.

"It's hard to process," he said. "I never thought that my family would be a victim of this."

Phimphavong advocates masks and social distancing and hopes people take the virus seriously.

"A lot of people don't think it's real," he said. "That's the part that scares me."