Arizona is seeing the highest rate of new coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which shows an average of 121.8 new illnesses per 100,000 people over the last seven days.
California is tracking second, with a rate of 97.1 per 100,000, followed by Tennessee, South Carolina, and then Kansas.
As of Sunday, the state’s health department reported that just 7% of ICU beds remained available. At least 61% of the state’s ICU resources are being used on COVID-19 patients, while an additional 32% are being used to care for non-COVID-19 patients.
In total, Arizona has seen more than 561,000 coronavirus cases, and over 9,000 deaths. According to its state health department, it’s currently tracking a 12.6% positivity rate. Adults between the ages of 20 and 44 are seemingly transmitting the virus fastest in the state, accounting for nearly half of all cases.
According to the CDC, the state is also lacking in vaccine distribution, with only 66,000 of the 411,000 doses administered.
Late last month, Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order aimed at speeding up vaccination efforts across the state. Initially, each county was permitted to formulate vaccination plans, but under the new order the state’s department of health is directed to implement a state-directed allocation model "to ensure a uniform approach."
"Across the country, news of delays in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine are being reported," Ducey said in a news release posted Dec. 30. "While Arizona has avoided many of these issues, any delay in shots being given to Arizonans is unacceptable. The development of the vaccine was called Operation Warp Speed, and the distribution of the vaccine should follow that same sense of urgency."
The order also noted that the state will begin reporting daily county-by-county vaccine administration data, and that local health departments must provide 24 hours’ notice to the state before advancing to the next phase of distribution.
"Any delay in the vaccine getting to Arizonans, any dose that sits in a freezer rather than reaching the arm of a health care worker or long-term care resident, carries too great a cost," Ducey’s statement said. "This is a health emergency, and we all need all levels of government and our health system operating as such. Vaccines don’t do any good sitting in a freezer."