Arizona COVID-19 updates: Arizona reports 361 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Arizona Republic

Arizona cases of COVID-19 rose by 361 to 881,450, while the number of known deaths remained at 17,628 after the state reported no new deaths on Monday. 

Arizona's seven-day death rate per 100,000 people ranked 11th in the nation as of Monday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Here's the latest:

Follow coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic by Republic and USA TODAY Network reporters here.

1:20 p.m. Monday: Arizona reports 361 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Arizona cases of COVID-19 rose by 361 to 881,450, while the total number of deaths remained at 17,628 as the state reported no new deaths on Monday. 

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported death totals from these counties: 10,071 in Maricopa, 2,411 in Pima, 892 in Pinal, 839 in Yuma, 735 in Mohave, 540 in Navajo, 508 in Yavapai, 432 in Apache, 330 in Coconino, 288 in Cochise, 229 in Gila, 180 in Santa Cruz, 83 in Graham, 80 in La Paz, and 10 in Greenlee. 

Arizona reported case totals from these counties: 550,599 in Maricopa, 116,917 in Pima, 52,876 in Pinal, 37,243 in Yuma, 23,077 in Mohave, 19,288 in Yavapai, 17,864 in Coconino, 16,444 in Navajo, 12,081 in Cochise, 11,409 in Apache, 8,039 in Santa Cruz, 6,937 in Gila, 5,622 in Graham, 2,480 in La Paz, and 574 in Greenlee. 

For May, Arizona’s percent positivity was at 5%, dropping from 6% in April, according to the state. 

Inpatient hospitalizations for the virus mostly plateaued for the month of May. Hospitalizations remained at more than 600 through May 7, then dropped below 600 between May 8 and May 17. The count grew to 607 on May 18 but has since remained below 600 for 12 consecutive days.

Arizona reported more than 3.3 million people in the state had received at least one vaccine dose as of Monday, with more than 2.8 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

— Monica D. Spencer

9:15 a.m. Sunday: Arizona reports 623 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Arizona cases of COVID-19 rose by 623 to 881,089 while the number of known deaths remained at 17,628 after the state reported no new deaths on Sunday.

The state reported death totals from these counties: 10,071 in Maricopa, 2,411 in Pima, 892 in Pinal, 839 in Yuma, 735 in Mohave, 540 in Navajo, 508 in Yavapai, 432 in Apache, 330 in Coconino, 288 in Cochise, 229 in Gila, 180 in Santa Cruz, 83 in Graham, 80 in La Paz and 10 in Greenlee.

Arizona reported case totals from these counties: 550,334 in Maricopa, 116,874 in Pima, 52,877 in Pinal, 37,234 in Yuma, 23,062 in Mohave, 19,277 in Yavapai, 17,861 in Coconino, 16,439 in Navajo, 12,079 in Cochise, 11,405 in Apache, 8,038 in Santa Cruz, 6,936 in Gila, 5,619 in Graham, 2,479 in La Paz and 574 in Greenlee.

Last week, Arizona's percent positivity was at 5% for the third week in a row following four weeks at 6%, according to the state.

Inpatient hospitalizations for the disease dropped for about 13 weeks and then plateaued for the last few weeks. Hospitalizations remained at more than 600 for 13 consecutive days through May 7, and then stayed below 600 from May 8, with the exception of May 18, when the count was 607. That’s far below the record 5,082 inpatients on Jan. 11.

The state reported more than 3.3 million people in Arizona had received at least one vaccine dose as of Sunday, with more than 2.7 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

— Chelsea Curtis

9:15 a.m. Saturday: US companies can mandate vaccinations, federal agency says

U.S. companies can mandate that employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced in a Friday statement.

Federal EEO laws do not prevent employers from requiring that all employees physically entering a workplace be vaccinated as long as employers comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws, according to the statement.

Employers may also offer incentives to employees to get vaccinated, "as long as the incentives are not coercive," the statement said.

"Because vaccinations require employees to answer pre-vaccination disability-related screening questions, a very large incentive could make employees feel pressured to disclose protected medical information," according to the statement.

“The updated technical assistance released today addresses frequently asked questions concerning vaccinations in the employment context,” EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows said in the statement. “The EEOC will continue to clarify and update our COVID-19 technical assistance to ensure that we are providing the public with clear, easy to understand, and helpful information."

— Christine Fernando, USA Today

5:15 p.m. Thursday: Pima County to offer lottery tickets to get vaccine

You could win $10,000 if you get your COVID-19 vaccine in Pima County this weekend.

The Pima County Health Department will be giving out Arizona Lottery scratcher tickets at two vaccine sites this weekend as a trial to see if it motivates people to get vaccinated.

The Arizona Lottery has given the county 200 $2 tickets, with a maximum prize of $10,000, in addition to smaller cash prizes. The odds of a winning ticket are one in four, per the county.

Lottery tickets will be given to the first 100 people at the Westgate Shopping Center vaccine site and the first 100 people at the Pima Community College Desert Vista Campus vaccine site, both of which are open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Tickets will go to the first 100 people  21 and older at each site who are getting their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or their first and only dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

A handful of states and localities across the country have launched a variety of incentive programs to boost vaccination numbers. Ohio, for example, has a $1 million vaccine lottery. Arizona has not had that kind of statewide incentive to date.

Pima’s health department already offers free entry to the Pima Air and Space Museum for people who got vaccinated at the FEMA mobile site at the museum through May 29.

“We know there are a lot of people still deciding whether to get the vaccine, or who are willing to get vaccinated if the circumstances are right. If incentives like the museum tickets or the lottery tickets help give someone that final bit of motivation to get their shot, then it makes sense to give them a try,” said county health director Dr. Theresa Cullen.

County officials said they may continue the lottery ticket incentive and expand it to more vaccination sites if it’s successful this weekend.

— Alison Steinbach

2:55 p.m. Thursday: UA researcher says he's filed his final COVID-19 weekly report

In another sign that the new coronavirus pandemic is winding down, University of Arizona researcher and COVID-19 authority Dr. Joe Gerald says he's filed his final weekly statewide coronavirus report.

Gerald's reports were followed by hospital systems, county health departments, nursing homes, journalists, public health leaders and others. He says that with cases declining and vaccinations increasing, now seemed like a good time to stop the weekly analyses of infections and and hospitalizations.

Gerald's final report, filed on the weekend, says there is little to no risk of a summer resurgence of COVID-19 in Arizona.

"We really are at the beginning of the end of this kind of major phase of COVID-19, where we are dealing with these really major outbreaks like we saw in December and January and then last June," Gerald said in an interview on Thursday.

In various reports over the course of the pandemic, Gerald correctly predicted the infection and hospitalization spikes in Arizona before they occurred.

At two different points during the past year of the pandemic, Arizona had the highest transmission rate in the world and continues to rank among the worst states in the country for its rate of COVID-19 deaths.

Arizona COVID-19 fatality counts are now at fewer than 75 deaths per week and should hover just above 50 deaths per week for the next two to four weeks or more, Gerald wrote in his final report.

"ADHS (Arizona Department of Health Services) senior leadership appears to have taken little heed of his important findings each week," Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, wrote in a recent blog post about Gerald's work.

"But the rest of the public health system eagerly awaited each weekly epidemiology and hospital capacity report."

Gerald and experts from other Arizona universities will continue to examine the state's COVID-19 data, but the only way Gerald's reports would resume is if there's another resurgence of infection, he said.

"Thinking about scientifically what might cause that to happen, it would be one of two things. One would be our immunity doesn't last as long as we thought it might," he said. "The second one would be some variant/mutation develops that escapes our vaccine or natural immune response."

Vaccination continues to be the most important action Arizonans can take to protect themselves and their communities, Gerald said, citing as an example the falling rates of new cases in Arizonans ages 65 and older as their vaccination rates have climbed higher than any other age group.

"Over the last four weeks the lowest case rates have been amongst those over 65," Gerald said. 

— Stephanie Innes

12:45 p.m. Thursday: AZ Department of Corrections to resume in-person visitations

The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry will resume in-person visitation on June 19, according to an ADCRR news release. 

The department first announced its suspension of visitations to state prisons on March 13, saying they would be suspended for 30 days due to COVID-19. Since then, the department continued extending the delay every month due to the pandemic and increasing COVID-19 cases across the state and in prisons. 

According to ADCRR, there is a three people visitation limit, or rather a maximum of two adult visitors and one child. 

The in-person visitation reopening will also restart in-person attorney visits, volunteer service activities and the department’s Second Chance Centers, according to ADCRR. 

In addition to the roll out of in-person visitation, inmate work programs will be re-launched in the phased reopening, according to ADCRR. 

Inmate work programs are scheduled to begin the week of June 6 which begins the phased rollout of the programs over the next two months, according to ADCRR. 

All inmate crews that are returning will be monitored closely by both ADCRR and Centurion, ADCRR’s contracted medical vendor.  

Director of ADCRR David Shinn said, "We recognize the significant challenges and sacrifices that everyone has experienced over the past year... We appreciate everyone’s patience as we reopen in phases and continue to follow state and CDC guidelines for congregate care settings to protect those in our custody." 

Additional details on the phased reopening can be found here.    

— Amaris Encinas 

9:15 a.m. Thursday: Arizona reports 764 new COVID-19 cases, 18 deaths

Arizona cases of COVID-19 rose by 764 to 879,102, and known deaths rose by 18 to 17,594, according to numbers released Thursday by the state.

The state reported death totals from these counties: 10,043 in Maricopa, 2,412 in Pima, 888 in Pinal, 839 in Yuma, 734 in Mohave, 540 in Navajo, 507 in Yavapai, 432 in Apache, 329 in Coconino, 288 in Cochise, 230 in Gila, 180 in Santa Cruz, 82 in Graham, 80 in La Paz and 10 in Greenlee.

Arizona reported case totals from these counties: 549,042 in Maricopa, 116,475 in Pima, 52,729 in Pinal, 37,222 in Yuma, 23,045 in Mohave, 19,238 in Yavapai, 17,849 in Coconino, 16,420 in Navajo, 12,058 in Cochise, 11,402 in Apache, 8,032 in Santa Cruz, 6,926 in Gila, 5,615 in Graham, 2,475 in La Paz and 574 in Greenlee.

Last week, Arizona's percent positivity was at 5% for the second week in a row following four weeks at 6%, according to the state.

Inpatient hospitalizations for the disease dropped for about 13 weeks and then plateaued for the last few weeks. Hospitalizations remained at more than 600 for 13 consecutive days through May 7, and then stayed below 600 from May 8, with the exception of May 18, when the count was 607. That’s far below the record 5,082 inpatients on Jan. 11.

The state reported nearly 3.3 million people in Arizona had received at least one vaccine dose as of Thursday, with more than 2.7 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

— Alison Steinbach

4 p.m. Wednesday: About half of Maricopa County residents 10+ have received at least one vaccine dose

Forty-nine percent of Maricopa County residents ages 10 and older, and about 85% of those 65 and older, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to this week’s county data as of Tuesday.

Children ages 12 through 15 became eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine about two weeks ago, and over 26,000 doses have been administered so far to county residents in that age group.

Nearly 1.6 million Maricopa County residents were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, meaning that about 35% of the county’s entire population has been fully vaccinated.

Vaccine rates are high in older individuals: about 86% of those 75 and older have received at least one dose, and about 83% of those 65-74, according to the Tuesday data. About 65% of county residents ages 55-64 have received at least one shot, up from 64% last week.

Fifty-one percent of those ages 45-54 have received at least one dose, up from 49% last week; 45% of those ages 35-44, up from 44% last week; 37% of those ages 25-34, up from 36% last week; and 31% of those ages 15-24, up from 29% last week. Six percent of those ages 10-14 have been vaccinated, up from 2% last week, although 12- through 15-year-olds have been eligible for less than two weeks.

Race breakdowns show similar disparities as previous weeks’ data. About 36% of white residents 10 and older had received at least one shot, compared to about 30% of Black county residents 10 and older. Two groups were above the countywide average: about 61% of American Indian or Alaska Native residents 10 and older had received at least one shot and about 59% of Asian or Pacific Islander adults.

About 19% of Hispanic/Latino county residents ages 10 and older had gotten at least one shot, but ethnicity data is unknown for 48% of all vaccinated individuals.

Of those vaccinated, about 54% have been female and 46% have been male, a statistic similar to what’s seen nationally as well. Close to 52% of females ages 10 and older in the county have received at least one dose, compared with 46% of males 10 and older.

Vaccines are available at a range of pharmacies, health clinics and large state-run sites, which also allow walk-ins. Many sites offer same-day appointments or walk-ins. County officials continue to coordinate smaller community-based events. More information is available at Maricopa.gov/covid19vaccine.

— Alison Steinbach

11:30 a.m. Wednesday: Coconino County, Flagstaff dropping mask mandates

FLAGSTAFF — Flagstaff, the most populous city in Coconino County in northern Arizona, and the county itself are dropping masking mandates they implemented last June to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Flagstaff Mayor Paul Deasy announced Tuesday that the city's face-covering proclamation that took effect June 20 would end Wednesday, and the county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to rescind the county’s mandate June 1.

The county’s action affects only unincorporated areas, and any mask mandates imposed by local and tribal governments may still be enforced, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.

Deasy cited wide availability of COVID-19 vaccines and declining case numbers.

“We will continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC and our local health departments and urge our residents to do the same," Deasy said in a city statement.

The statement said businesses can still require face coverings and social distancing on private property and that face coverings are still required on public transportation, at the airport and other areas required by federal law.

Arizona on Wednesday reported 656 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and seven more deaths, increasing the state’s pandemic totals to 878,338 cases and 17,576 deaths.

11 a.m. Wednesday: Biden steps up probe of virus origins

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Wednesday he has asked the intelligence community to report within 90 days on the likely origins of COVID-19.

As questions grow about whether the virus was the result of an accident in a Chinese laboratory or spread through other means, Biden said in a statement he wants the community, which has been divided over the issue, to "redouble" their investigative efforts.

As of today, the U.S. Intelligence Community has “coalesced around two likely scenarios,” according to Biden's statement. 

While two elements of the community lean toward the likelihood that the virus emerged from human contact with an infected animal, one leans toward the possibility of a laboratory accident. Their assessments are made "with low or moderate confidence." and the majority of members of the intelligence community "do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.”

"I have now asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days," Biden said.

10 a.m. Wednesday: Arizona reports 656 new COVID-19 cases, 7 deaths

Arizona cases of COVID-19 rose by 656 to 878,338, and known deaths rose by seven to 17,576, according to numbers released Wednesday by the state.

The state reported death totals from these counties: 10,031 in Maricopa, 2,410 in Pima, 888 in Pinal, 838 in Yuma, 733 in Mohave, 538 in Navajo, 507 in Yavapai, 432 in Apache, 330 in Coconino, 288 in Cochise, 230 in Gila, 180 in Santa Cruz, 82 in Graham, 79 in La Paz and 10 in Greenlee.

Arizona reported case totals from these counties: 548,519 in Maricopa, 116,417 in Pima, 52,649 in Pinal, 37,218 in Yuma, 23,007 in Mohave, 19,188 in Yavapai, 17,852 in Coconino, 16,412 in Navajo, 12,055 in Cochise, 11,400 in Apache, 8,031 in Santa Cruz, 6,928 in Gila, 5,614 in Graham, 2,474 in La Paz and 574 in Greenlee.

Last week, Arizona's percent positivity was at 5% for the second week in a row following four weeks at 6%, according to the state.

Inpatient hospitalizations for the disease dropped for about 13 weeks and then plateaued for the last few weeks. Hospitalizations remained at more than 600 for 13 consecutive days through May 7, and then stayed below 600 from May 8, with the exception of May 18, when the count was 607. That’s far below the record 5,082 inpatients on Jan. 11.

The state reported more than 3.2 million people in Arizona had received at least one vaccine dose as of Wednesday, with more than 2.7 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

— Alison Steinbach

10:30 a.m. Tuesday: Arizona reports 500 new COVID-19 cases, 14 deaths

Arizona cases of COVID-19 rose by 500 to 877,682, and known deaths rose by 14 to 17,569, according to numbers released Tuesday by the state.

The state reported death totals from these counties: 10,022 in Maricopa, 2,410 in Pima, 888 in Pinal, 838 in Yuma, 732 in Mohave, 537 in Navajo, 508 in Yavapai, 433 in Apache, 332 in Coconino, 288 in Cochise, 230 in Gila, 180 in Santa Cruz, 82 in Graham, 79 in La Paz and 10 in Greenlee.

Arizona reported case totals from these counties: 548,006 in Maricopa, 116,359 in Pima, 52,631 in Pinal, 37,209 in Yuma, 22,984 in Mohave, 19,169 in Yavapai, 17,871 in Coconino, 16,386 in Navajo, 12,053 in Cochise, 11,398 in Apache, 8,030 in Santa Cruz, 6,926 in Gila, 5,613 in Graham, 2,473 in La Paz and 574 in Greenlee.

Last week, Arizona's percent positivity was at 5% for the second week in a row following four weeks at 6%, according to the state.

Inpatient hospitalizations for the disease dropped for about 13 weeks and then plateaued for the last few weeks. Hospitalizations remained at more than 600 for 13 consecutive days through May 7, and then stayed below 600 from May 8, with the exception of May 18, when the count was 607. That’s far below the record 5,082 inpatients on Jan. 11.

The state reported more than 3.2 million people in Arizona had received at least one vaccine dose as of Tuesday, with more than 2.7 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

— Alison Steinbach

7 a.m. Tuesday: Moderna says its COVID vaccine found to be 100% effective in children 12 to 17 two weeks after second dose

The Moderna vaccine was 93% effective against COVID-19 in children aged 12 to 17 after the first dose and 100% two weeks after the second dose, with no cases of COVID-19 reported among vaccinated participants.

In addition, no serious safety concerns were identified, data from the company’s Phase 2/3 clinical trial released Tuesday showed.

According to the company, the trial involved more than 3,700 adolescents, two-thirds of whom received the vaccine and one-third of whom received a placebo. 

There were no cases of COVID-19 among the vaccinated group after two shots, compared with four cases in the placebo group, an efficacy rate of 100%, according to the company's study.

In addition, the vaccine was found to be 93% effective starting 14 days after the first dose for milder disease, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most common adverse event was pain at the site of the injection, according to the study. The most common after the second dose were headache, fatigue, muscle pain and chills.

— Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub, USA Today

12:50 p.m. Monday: Arizona reports 450 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths

Arizona cases of COVID-19 rose by 450 to 877,182, with 17,555 known deaths, according to numbers released Monday by the state.

No new deaths were reported, which is often the case on Mondays.

The state reported death totals from these counties: 10,017 in Maricopa, 2,409 in Pima, 887 in Pinal, 838 in Yuma, 727 in Mohave, 537 in Navajo, 508 in Yavapai, 432 in Apache, 332 in Coconino, 287 in Cochise, 230 in Gila, 180 in Santa Cruz, 82 in Graham, 79 in La Paz and 10 in Greenlee.

Arizona reported case totals from these counties: 547,645 in Maricopa, 116,320 in Pima, 52,568 in Pinal, 37,206 in Yuma, 22,963 in Mohave, 19,156 in Yavapai, 17,872 in Coconino, 16,390 in Navajo, 12,053 in Cochise, 11,397 in Apache, 8,029 in Santa Cruz, 6,924 in Gila, 5,612 in Graham, 2,473 in La Paz and 574 in Greenlee.

Last week, Arizona's percent positivity was at 5% for the second week in a row following four weeks at 6%, according to the state.

Inpatient hospitalizations for the disease dropped for about 13 weeks and then plateaued for the last few weeks. Hospitalizations remained at more than 600 for 13 consecutive days through May 7, and then stayed below 600 from May 8, with the exception of May 18, when the count was 607. That’s far below the record 5,082 inpatients on Jan. 11.

The state reported more than 3.2 million people in Arizona had received at least one vaccine dose as of Monday, with more than 2.7 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

— Alison Steinbach

12 p.m. Sunday: Arizona reports 321 new COVID-19 cases, 8 new known deaths

Arizona cases of COVID-19 rose by 321 to 876,732, and known deaths rose by eight to 17,555, according to numbers released Sunday by the state. 

The state reported death total from these counties: 10,017 in Maricopa, 2,409 in Pima, 887 in Pinal, 838 in Yuma, 727 in Mohave, 537 in Navajo, 508 in Yavapai, 432 in Apache, 332 in Coconino, 287 in Cochise, 230 in Gila, 180 in Santa Cruz, 82 in Graham, 79 in La Paz and 10 in Greenlee.

Arizona reported case totals from these counties: 547,298 in Maricopa, 116,283 in Pima, 52,569 in Pinal, 37,198 in Yuma, 22,937 in Mohave, 19,141 in Yavapai, 17,869 in Coconino, 16,382 in Navajo, 12,053 in Cochise, 11,393 in Apache, 8,028 in Santa Cruz, 6,922 in Gila, 5,611 in Graham, 2,472 in La Paz and 574 in Greenlee, according to state numbers.

Last week, Arizona's percent positivity was at 5% for the second week in a row following after four weeks at 6%, according to the state.

The state reported nearly 3.2 million people in Arizona had received at least one vaccine dose as of Sunday, with more than 2.7 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

— Chelsea Curtis

1:15 p.m. Friday: State vaccine sites adjust hours

Arizona’s large state-run mass vaccination sites are adjusting their hours due to decreased demand.

COVID-19 vaccine demand statewide and at the large state PODs has dropped off significantly, state health director Dr. Cara Christ said at a Friday news briefing.

At peak demand, the state POD sites combined were administering over 20,000 doses per day, but now it’s between 5,000 and 10,000 doses per day, Christ said. State data shows for nearly all of May, the state PODs combined have vaccinated fewer than 10,000 people each day, but some days were below 5,000 daily doses.  

Statewide at all sites, the peak was around 60,000 to 80,000 doses per day, but now it’s about 20,000 doses per day.

“Because of the decreased demand, we are going to start modifying some of our hours and days of operation at those sites,” Christ said. “We’ve taken a look at our most popular days and our most popular times and are making some adjustments.”

All seven sites remain open, with the following adjusted hours:

  • Gila River Arena, Glendale: Daily, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (No change in hours, but some days are blocked off.)
  • WestWorld, Scottsdale: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • ASU’s Desert Financial Arena, Tempe: Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Dexcom, Mesa: Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Yuma Civic Center, Yuma: Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • University of Arizona, Tucson: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Anyone ages 12 and older is eligible to get vaccinated at state sites, which use the Pfizer vaccine.

Walk-ins should check the hours and days the sites are open before heading there to get vaccinated, Christ said. Some same-day appointments are available and having an appointment can speed up the visit. Appointments can be booked at podvaccine.azdhs.gov or by calling 844-542-8201.

Christ said there is no timeline yet for when the seven large state sites will close. COVID-19 vaccines are also available at many other sites across the state, including pharmacies, clinics and at community events.

— Alison Steinbach

11:30 a.m. Friday: Arizona reports 571 new COVID-19 cases, 22 new deaths

Arizona cases of COVID-19 rose by 571 to 875,766, and known deaths rose by 22 to 17,531, according to numbers released Friday by the state.

The state reported death totals from these counties: 9,999 in Maricopa, 2,407 in Pima, 888 in Pinal, 838 in Yuma, 725 in Mohave, 536 in Navajo, 508 in Yavapai, 431 in Apache, 332 in Coconino, 287 in Cochise, 230 in Gila, 179 in Santa Cruz, 82 in Graham, 79 in La Paz and 10 in Greenlee.

Arizona reported case totals from these counties: 546,516 in Maricopa, 116,231 in Pima, 52,504 in Pinal, 37,191 in Yuma, 22,927 in Mohave, 19,133 in Yavapai, 17,870 in Coconino, 16,371 in Navajo, 12,045 in Cochise, 11,379 in Apache, 8,018 in Santa Cruz, 6,922 in Gila, 5,613 in Graham, 2,470 in La Paz and 574 in Greenlee.

Last week, Arizona's percent positivity was 5%, following four weeks at 6%, according to the state.

Inpatient hospitalizations for the disease dropped for about 13 weeks and then plateaued for the last few weeks. Hospitalizations remained at more than 600 for 13 consecutive days through May 7, and then stayed below 600 from May 8, with the exception of Tuesday, when the count was 607. That’s far below the record 5,082 inpatients on Jan. 11.

The state reported nearly 3.2 million people in Arizona had received at least one vaccine dose as of Friday, with close to 2.7 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

— Alison Steinbach

10:30 a.m. Thursday: Arizona reports 590 new COVID-19 cases, 12 new deaths

Arizona cases of COVID-19 rose by 590 to 875,195, and known deaths rose by 12 to 17,509, according to numbers released Thursday by the state.

The state reported death totals from these counties: 9,974 in Maricopa, 2,408 in Pima, 884 in Pinal, 837 in Yuma, 725 in Mohave, 535 in Navajo, 505 in Yavapai, 431 in Apache, 332 in Coconino, 287 in Cochise, 228 in Gila, 179 in Santa Cruz, 83 in Graham, 79 in La Paz and 10 in Greenlee.

Arizona reported case totals from these counties: 546,247 in Maricopa, 116,101 in Pima, 52,423 in Pinal, 37,183 in Yuma, 22,911 in Mohave, 19,091 in Yavapai, 17,868 in Coconino, 16,364 in Navajo, 12,043 in Cochise, 11,377 in Apache, 8,010 in Santa Cruz, 6,918 in Gila, 5,613 in Graham, 2,469 in La Paz and 575 in Greenlee.

Last week, Arizona's percent positivity was 5%, following four weeks at 6%, according to the state.

Inpatient hospitalizations for the disease dropped for about 13 weeks and then plateaued for the last few weeks. Hospitalizations remained at more than 600 for 13 consecutive days through May 7, and then stayed below 600 from May 8, with the exception of Tuesday, when the count was 607. That’s far below the record 5,082 inpatients on Jan. 11.

The state reported nearly 3.2 million people in Arizona had received at least one vaccine dose as of Thursday, with more than 2.6 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

— Alison Steinbach

4 p.m. Wednesday: One-third of Maricopa County residents fully vaccinated

Forty-seven percent of Maricopa County residents ages 10 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to this week’s county data as of Tuesday.

Children ages 12 through 15 became eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine last week, and about 6,400 did so across the county in the first four days after it was approved.

More than 1.5 million Maricopa County residents were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, meaning that about one-third of the county’s entire population has been fully vaccinated.

Vaccine rates are high in older individuals: about 82% of those 75 and older have received at least one dose as of last week (this week’s number wasn’t immediately available), and about 82% of those 65-74, according to the Tuesday data. About 64% of county residents ages 55-64 have received at least one shot, up from 63% last week.

Forty-nine percent of those ages 45-54 have received at least one dose, up from 48% last week; about 44% of those ages 35-44, up from 42% last week; 36% of those ages 25-34, up from 35% last week; and 29% of those ages 15-24, up from 27% last week. Two percent of those ages 10-14 have been vaccinated since 12- through 15-year-olds became eligible last week.

Race breakdowns show similar disparities as previous weeks’ data, although the percentages shifted downward as more residents became eligible. About 35% of white residents 10 and older had received at least one shot, compared to about 28% of Black county residents 10 and older. Two groups were above the countywide average: about 58% of American Indian or Alaska Native residents 10 and older had received at least one shot, and about 57% of Asian or Pacific Islander adults. 

About 18% of Hispanic/Latino county residents ages 10 and older had gotten at least one shot, but ethnicity data is unknown for 49% of all vaccinated individuals.

Of those vaccinated, about 54% have been female and 46% have been male, a statistic similar to what’s seen nationally as well. Close to 50% of females ages 10 and older in the county have received at least one dose, compared with 44% of males 10 and older.

Vaccines are available at a range of pharmacies, health clinics and large state-run sites, which also allow walk-ins. Many sites have offer same-day appointments or walk-ins. County officials continue to coordinate smaller community-based events. More information is available at Maricopa.gov/covid19vaccine.

— Alison Steinbach

12:30 p.m. Wednesday: Tucson ends mask mandate

Tucson's mayor and City Council voted on Tuesday to end the city’s mask requirement.

“With the release of updated CDC guidelines, and no way of distinguishing between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, I will be asking my colleagues on the Council to consider ending our local mask-wearing requirement,” Mayor Regina Romero tweeted in a written statement Friday.

In her statement, Romero also encouraged Tucson residents to follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevent guidelines, wear a mask when appropriate, and get vaccinated.

Up until the Tuesday vote, the mayor and council had given direction to the city attorney and city manager to interpret Tucson’s mask mandate in accordance with CDC guidelines. Masks are still required on public transit and the statement noted that local businesses may still set their own standards for masking and social distancing as a requirement for customers to enter and remain on their premises.

— Meena Venkataramanan

9:45 a.m. Wednesday: Arizona reports 540 new COVID-19 cases, 17 new deaths

Arizona cases of COVID-19 rose by 540 to 874,605, and known deaths rose by 17 to 17,497, according to numbers released on Wednesday by the state.

The state reported death totals from these counties: 9,974 in Maricopa, 2,408 in Pima, 884 in Pinal, 837 in Yuma, 725 in Mohave, 535 in Navajo, 505 in Yavapai, 431 in Apache, 332 in Coconino, 287 in Cochise, 228 in Gila, 179 in Santa Cruz, 83 in Graham, 79 in La Paz and 10 in Greenlee.

Arizona reported case totals from these counties: 545,875 in Maricopa, 116,094 in Pima, 52,293 in Pinal, 37,179 in Yuma, 22,898 in Mohave, 19,075 in Yavapai, 17,869 in Coconino, 16,335 in Navajo, 12,040 in Cochise, 11,383 in Apache, 7,999 in Santa Cruz, 6,911 in Gila, 5,610 in Graham, 2,468 in La Paz and 575 in Greenlee.

Last week, Arizona's percent positivity was 5%, following four weeks at 6%, according to the state.

Inpatient hospitalizations for the disease dropped for about 13 weeks and then plateaued for the last few weeks. Hospitalizations remained at more than 600 for 13 consecutive days through May 7, and then stayed below 600 from May 8 until Tuesday, when the count was 607. That’s far below the record 5,082 inpatients on Jan. 11.

The state reported more than 3.1 million people in Arizona had received at least one vaccine dose as of Wednesday, with more than 2.6 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

— Alison Steinbach

10 a.m. Tuesday: Arizona reports 619 new COVID-19 cases, 14 new deaths

Arizona cases of COVID-19 rose by 619 to 874,065, and known deaths rose by 14 to 17,480, according to numbers released on Tuesday by the state.

The state reported death totals from these counties: 9,963 in Maricopa, 2,407 in Pima, 881 in Pinal, 837 in Yuma, 725 in Mohave, 535 in Navajo, 505 in Yavapai, 431 in Apache, 330 in Coconino, 287 in Cochise, 228 in Gila, 179 in Santa Cruz, 83 in Graham, 79 in La Paz and 10 in Greenlee.

Arizona reported case totals from these counties: 545,468 in Maricopa, 116,068 in Pima, 52,234 in Pinal, 37,177 in Yuma, 22,887 in Mohave, 19,044 in Yavapai, 17,883 in Coconino, 16,336 in Navajo, 12,021 in Cochise, 11,391 in Apache, 7,994 in Santa Cruz, 6,905 in Gila, 5,613 in Graham, 2,468 in La Paz and 574 in Greenlee.

Last week, Arizona's percent positivity was 5%, following four weeks at 6%, according to the state.

Inpatient hospitalizations for the disease dropped for about 13 weeks and then plateaued for the last few weeks. Hospitalizations remained at more than 600 for 13 consecutive days through May 7, and then have stayed below 600 since May 8. That’s far below the record 5,082 inpatients on Jan. 11.

The state reported more than 3.1 million people in Arizona had received at least one vaccine dose as of Tuesday, with more than 2.6 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

— Alison Steinbach

6 p.m. Monday: Tempe, Mesa end mask requirements after CDC eases mask rules for vaccinated people

Tempe will no longer require masks in public places starting Friday following new federal guidelines that ease mask use for people vaccinated against COVID-19.

Mayor Corey Woods on Monday rescinded the city’s mask mandate that had been in effect since last June.

Woods, in a video announcing the change, said last week’s recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said fully vaccinated people could stop wearing masks and social distancing in most indoor places and outdoors and improving COVID-19 metrics in the state led to the decision.

The city encouraged people who aren’t fully vaccinated to continue wearing masks when in public and urged businesses to provide masks to public-facing employees who haven’t received the vaccine to slow the spread of the virus.

Fully vaccinated people won’t be required to wear masks in most city facilities either but masks are recommended for people who aren’t vaccinated. Some city programs that serve children, seniors or other vulnerable populations will continue to require masks and social distancing.

Mesa, which required masks in city facilities, also announced Monday that it would be easing its rules. Beginning May 24, masks will be optional in open city facilities, such as city libraries and recreation centers.

— Paulina Pineda

12:20 p.m. Monday: Arizona reports 468 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Arizona cases of COVID-19 rose by 468 to 873,446, with 17,466 known deaths, according to numbers released on Monday by the state.

No new deaths were reported, which is often the case on Mondays.

The state reported death totals from these counties: 9,955 in Maricopa, 2,407 in Pima, 880 in Pinal, 836 in Yuma, 724 in Mohave, 535 in Navajo, 505 in Yavapai, 431 in Apache, 330 in Coconino, 284 in Cochise, 228 in Gila, 179 in Santa Cruz, 83 in Graham, 79 in La Paz and 10 in Greenlee.

Arizona reported case totals from these counties: 545,051 in Maricopa, 116,007 in Pima, 52,143 in Pinal, 37,173 in Yuma, 22,874 in Mohave, 19,032 in Yavapai, 17,882 in Coconino, 16,338 in Navajo, 12,009 in Cochise, 11,392 in Apache, 7,989 in Santa Cruz, 6,903 in Gila, 5,611 in Graham, 2,468 in La Paz and 574 in Greenlee.

Last week, Arizona's percent positivity was 5%, following four weeks at 6%, according to the state.

Inpatient hospitalizations for the disease dropped for about 13 weeks and then plateaued for the last few weeks. Hospitalizations remained at more than 600 for 13 consecutive days through May 7, and then have stayed below 600 since May 8. That’s far below the record 5,082 inpatients on Jan. 11.

The state reported more than 3.1 million people in Arizona had received at least one vaccine dose as of Monday, with more than 2.6 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

— Alison Steinbach

12 p.m. Monday: Target, CVS end mask requirements for fully vaccinated customers

Target has dropped its mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers, joining with Walmart, Trader Joe's, Starbucks, Costco and other businesses.

Target's updated mask policy starts Monday for customers and employees, but the retailer still strongly recommends unvaccinated customers and employees wear masks. And customers who live in areas that have state or local mask requirements may still have to wear them – regardless of vaccination status. 

CVS also updated its policy Monday and said on its website that customers were "no longer required to wear face coverings inside of our stores, unless it is mandated by state or local regulations."

Target said in a statement Monday that it "will no longer require fully vaccinated guests and team members to wear face coverings in our stores, except where it’s required by local ordinances."

"Face coverings will continue to be strongly recommended for guests and team members who are not fully vaccinated and we’ll continue our increased safety and cleaning measures, including social distancing, throughout our stores," Target said.

— Kelly Tyko

3:30 p.m. Sunday: Pima County follows CDC guidelines on masks

Pima County announced it would withdraw its mask mandate in light of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated guidelines on Thursday allowing fully vaccinated people to no longer wear masks or physically distance.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors today voted 4-1 to no longer require people who are fully vaccinated to wear a mask, according to a new release Friday. The board also passed a resolution recommending unvaccinated people keep wearing masks. 

Similar to CDC guidelines, the resolution also recommends mask wearing for people on public transportation, schools, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, congregate settings, health care facilities, and indoor events over 1,000. 

— Kaila White

11:15 a.m. Friday: Masks still required for now at Target, Walmart, CVS and more, but retailers to review guidance 

Don't ditch your mask just yet.

Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new masking guidelines saying fully vaccinated people don't need to wear masks, face coverings will still be required when shopping at the nation's major retailers and entering national chain restaurants like Starbucks.

At least for now.

But several companies including Target, Walmart, CVS and Kroger say they will reevaluate their mask policies based on the CDC guidance. Trader Joe's updated its mask policy Friday and said fully vaccinated customers won't be required to wear masks.

"Target will continue to require all of our coronavirus safety measures in all stores, including masks and social distancing, while we review updated guidance from the CDC and re-evaluate the guidance we offer our team and guests," Target spokesperson Brian Harper-Tibaldo said in a statement to USA TODAY.

The CDC said Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans, for the most part, no longer need to wear masks indoors and don’t have to wear masks outdoors, even in crowded spaces.

But privately-owned businesses can still require masks, which most of the nation's largest retailers started mandating last summer. There are other exceptions for when the CDC recommends masks such as in health care settings, transportation hubs such as airports and stations, and public transportation.

— Kelly Tyko/USA Today

7 p.m. Thursday: City of Scottsdale to remove mask mandate

The City of Scottsdale announced it would withdraw its mask mandate in light of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated guidelines on Thursday allowing fully vaccinated people to no longer wear masks or physically distance.

Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega withdrew his Jan. 13 emergency proclamation related to masks, according to a news release from the city on Thursday.

It noted that while covering one's nose and mouth when interacting with others was still encouraged, it was no longer required in city buildings and facilities.

"The CDC's latest guidance is another signpost on the road back to normal, and it will be a relief to many," Ortega said in the news release. "But we still have to be smart, and cautious, because COVID is not gone — we cannot declare 'all clear' yet."

"Vaccinations are proven effective and have helped us get to this point," Ortega continued. "We ask people in Scottsdale to treat others with courtesy, respect and with awareness of the health concerns that remain about this deadly virus."

— Chelsea Curtis

12:45 p.m. Thursday: Embry Health offers mobile vaccine events

A local health care company is conducting a “vaccine blitz” with the goal of vaccinating 30,000 people in a week.

Embry Health has many drive-thru vaccine locations as well as mobile units that are working to provide vaccines at events and to groups and businesses like bars, restaurants, gyms, community organizations, schools and others.

The vaccines are free regardless of medical insurance, according to Embry Health. Vaccine events are also free for businesses that want to participate.

To request a business visit or find a mobile location site, go to embryhealth.com/vaccine-blitz or email sales@embryhealth.com. Mobile units are ready for same-day or next-day vaccine clinics, according to the company.

“By holding this 7-day COVID Vaccine Blitz, we’re really trying to engage momentum in helping to make vaccines as accessible and easy to get as possible,” CEO and co-founder Raymond Embry said in a statement.

“If we take vaccines where the people are, it’s going to eliminate barriers to getting vaccinated. There is a huge segment that is not opposed to the vaccine, but they are not going out of their way to get vaccinated. Embry can make this more convenient, which will help people get vaccinated.”

Embry Health is launching a “shots with shots” effort and is looking for bars and restaurants to partner with. Embry can bring the mobile vaccine unit, and the bars and restaurants can provide free alcohol shots to those 21 and over who are getting vaccinated.

The company says it has already provided over 70,000 COVID-19 vaccines and tested over 1 million Arizonans for the virus.

— Alison Steinbach

12:15 p.m. Thursday: New CDC guidelines say vaccinated Americans can ditch the masks, with a few exceptions

The CDC relaxed guidelines Thursday for wearing masks and social distancing indoors in a decision with major implications.

The new guidance allows fully vaccinated people to safely stop wearing masks and maintaining a certain distance from others inside most places.

"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,'' CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. "I you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.''

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after getting the second Pfizer or Moderna shot or the same amount of time after receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

The rules will still call for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings such as buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters but could ease restrictions for reopening workplaces and schools. In addition, the agency will no longer recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks outdoors in crowds, possibly allowing for bigger capacities at sporting events.

The new recommendations from the CDC could also serve as an incentive for the tens of millions of eligible Americans who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 to get their shots.

— USA Today

11 a.m. Thursday: CDC to ease indoor mask guidance

The CDC is expected Thursday to relax guidelines for wearing masks indoors in a decision with major implications.

The new guidance will say that fully vaccinated people can safely stop wearing masks inside most places, The Associated Press reported.

The rules will still call for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings such as buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters but could ease restrictions for reopening workplaces and schools. In addition, the agency will no longer recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks outdoors in crowds, possibly allowing for sporting events to allow in more fans.

— USA Today

7:45 a.m. Thursday: 13 more cases of blood clots linked to J&J vaccine

Thirteen more cases of an unusual blood clotting disorder have been identified among  people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but no one else has died and no new cases have been seen among people vaccinated after the government's 11-day pause in J&J shots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that 28 people have now been identified with a disorder being called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome.

To qualify for the diagnosis, someone must have a blood clot, known as a thrombosis, in an uncommon location, such as the brain, as well as low levels of platelets in their blood, a condition known as thrombocytopenia.

The combination is rare. The fact that it occurred in so many people within about two weeks of vaccination "suggests a plausible causal association," Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, deputy director of the CDC's Immunization Safety Office, told an agency advisory committee Wednesday. 

So far, three people have died of TTS, and one remains in intensive care. 

The J&J vaccine was delivered to nearly 8 million Americans before its use was temporarily paused last month. All of the patients with TTS received the shot before the pause, though the 13 additional cases were identified only recently.

Only about 1 million people have received the single-shot vaccine since use of the J&J vaccine resumed April 23. Only about 150,000 J&J shots have since been given to women under 50, the highest risk group for TTS, the CDC data suggests.

Most developed symptoms six to 15 days after vaccination, after normal side effects generally recede.

— Karen Weintraub

4:15 p.m. Wednesday: COVID-19 variant from India found in Arizona

The COVID-19 variant first identified in India has been detected in Arizona.

Two test samples have been sequenced and found to have the new variant, called B.1.617, according to a statewide sequencing dashboard by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The SARS-CoV-2 variant first identified in India in February is so far a “variant of interest” rather than a more serious “variant of concern,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The next level is a “variant of high consequence,” but none have been labeled that yet.

The B.1.617 variant may be neutralized less successfully by some monoclonal antibody treatments, the CDC says. It may also have slightly reduced neutralization after vaccination.

The likely more concerning variant in Arizona is the one first identified in the United Kingdom, which has become the dominant strain of the virus in the state. That one, B.1.1.7, has about 50% increased transmissibility and possibly more hospitalizations and deaths, per the CDC. The vaccines seem to be largely working against it.

TGen’s sequencing dashboard shows about 1,900 identified genomes with the U.K. variant. The samples that go to sequencing may not represent the actual prevalence of the variants in the state’s population.

— Alison Steinbach

1:45 p.m. Wednesday: About half of eligible Maricopa County residents vaccinated

About half of Maricopa County residents ages 15 and older had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to this week’s county data as of Tuesday.

Across the county, more than 1.4 million residents were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, meaning that about 32% of the county’s entire population has been fully vaccinated.

Vaccine rates are high in older individuals: about 82% of those 75 and older have received at least one dose and about 81% of those 65-74, according to the Tuesday data. About 63% of county residents ages 55-64 have received at least one shot, up from 61% last week.

Forty-eight percent of those ages 45-54 have received at least one dose, up from 46% last week; about 42% of those ages 35-44, up from 41% last week; 35% of those ages 25-34, up from 33% last week; and 27% of those ages 15-24, up from 25% last week.

Demand and vaccination rates have slowed. Appointments are relatively easy to come by and some sites allow walk-ins and same-day appointments. County officials expect demand will increase again when teens ages 12-15 can start getting the Pfizer vaccine, expected to begin Thursday.

Race breakdowns show similar disparities as previous weeks’ data. About 37% of white residents 15 and older had received at least one shot, compared to about 30% of Black adult county residents. Two groups were above the countywide average: about 61% of American Indian or Alaska Native adult residents had received at least one shot, and about 59% of Asian or Pacific Islander adults. 

About 19% of Hispanic/Latino county residents over 15 had gotten at least one shot, up from 18% last week, but ethnicity data is unknown for 50% of all vaccinated individuals.

Of those vaccinated, about 54% have been female and 46% have been male, a statistic similar to what’s seen nationally as well. Close to 53% of females ages 15 and older in the county have received at least one dose, compared with 46% of men 15 and older.

County residents ages 16 and older can sign up for vaccine appointments at a range of pharmacies, health clinics and large state-run sites, which also allow walk-ins. County officials continue to coordinate smaller community-based events. More information is available at Maricopa.gov/covid19vaccine.

— Alison Steinbach

5:20 p.m. Tuesday: Arizona ready to start vaccinating children 12 to 15 on Thursday

Arizona state vaccine sites are ready to start vaccinating children ages 12 through 15 Thursday, pending recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to expand the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to that age group. 

Following guidance from the CDC, parents and guardians can start bringing their 12- through 15-year-olds to the seven state vaccination sites in Maricopa, Pima, Coconino and Yuma counties beginning Thursday, state health officials said. Those sites are open to walk-ins and people with appointments. Pharmacies and other providers are also expected to start vaccinating that age group on Thursday. The state health department said it is working with rural counties that have not yet received Pfizer-BioNTech doses.

Pfizer-BioNTech would be the only vaccine approved for the 12 through 15 age group so far. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently authorized for people 18 and older. Vaccine sites can be sorted by vaccine type at azdhs.gov/findvaccine. Parents or guardians must go with the child and sign a consent form in person. 

“The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and free — and they’re our best shot to end this pandemic and return to the things we’ve missed. We’re moving quickly to empower parents and guardians to get this protection for their children,” Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement.

“Millions of Arizonans have already received the COVID-19 vaccine. Soon, kids ages 12 to 15 years old will now be eligible to get vaccinated and state vaccine sites are ready to serve them.”

Arizona has nearly 400,000 children ages 12 to 15, per the Arizona Department of Health Services. More than 3 million people in Arizona have received at least one dose of the vaccine so far, with over 2.5 million people fully vaccinated. 

— Alison Steinbach

9:30 a.m. Tuesday: Novavax plans to present US data on its vaccine; manufacturing to delay deliveries

Novavax plans to release data about its COVID-19 vaccine's safety and effectiveness as soon as this month, but production issues are slowing the process, its president and CEO Stanley Erck said Monday. 

"All of the questions about 'whether' or 'if' are behind us now. I think we've solved those problems," Erck told USA TODAY. "It's a matter of time to get there."

In its quarterly report, released Monday, the company said it revised its anticipated capacity downward, to 100 million doses per month by the end of the third quarter, with 150 million doses per month predicted by the fourth quarter. 

Erck said he hopes to have manufacturing and supply issues resolved by the fourth quarter and expects Novavax to produce as many as 3 billion doses worldwide next year along with its partner, the Serum Institute of India.

The challenge for the past year has been "can you take a process that we developed a year ago at the 10-liter stage and develop that process and make it at 2,000 or 6,000 liters," Erck said.

Now, at all of its plants, Novavax has achieved that leap in scale, though it is still working to produce doses at a faster pace.

"We can make it," he said. "A lot of confidence. Now, it's just a race to the finish line. Of course, for us, the finish line is just the starting line."

Getting to that starting line will also require safety and effectiveness data from large-scale clinical trials. 

While the company has shown strong data from trials in the United Kingdom and South Africa, it has not yet released data from a study led largely in the U.S. That data will be released by the end of June, according to the company's quarterly statement.

"I'm not putting a date down, but it's in a few weeks,"  Erck said.

Novavax is one of five companies that received large sums of money from the federal government for developing and/or manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines.

— Karen Weintraub/USA Today 

9 a.m. Tuesday: Most unvaccinated US adults don't want the shot

Vaccine hesitancy has become the predominant mindset of Americans who have not yet been inoculated, making the drive for herd immunity ever more elusive.

Just 11% of American adults who remain unvaccinated say they definitely will get the shot, while 34% say they definitely won’t, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Another 27% say they probably will and 27% say they probably won’t.

The vaccination rush has slowed, and President Joe Biden is meeting virtually with six governors on Tuesday to discuss how to revive momentum. Biden wants 70% of Americans vaccinated by the 4th of July. That's about what some experts say is needed to get the pandemic under control. Right now less than half of Americans had received at least one shot.

Getting kids vaccinated could help the numbers. Adolescents 12 to 15 could qualify for shots as soon as Thursday after the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the age group.

Biden said last week that 20,000 pharmacy locations are ready to begin vaccinating adolescents once the necessary approvals come through.

Older teens, 16 and 17, have been allowed to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine since it was authorized in December. The other two vaccines authorized for use in the USA, from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, have not been available to minors because studies are still underway. 

5:45 p.m. Monday: FDA authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for younger teens

A COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, is safe and effective enough to give to younger teens, the Food and Drug Administration said Monday in authorizing its use.

The decision means adolescents ages 12 to 15 could qualify for shots as soon as Thursday, after the Wednesday meeting of an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

President Joe Biden said last week that 20,000 pharmacy locations are ready to begin vaccinating adolescents once the necessary approvals come through.

Shots also will be available soon through pediatricians' offices, the president said. "And if teens are on the move this summer, they can get their first shot in one place and a second shot elsewhere."

That may be more complicated in reality. FDA officials speaking late Monday said that while their authorization covers the entire country, each state may have its own rules about who can administer vaccines, so not all pharmacies or vaccination sites available to adults will be open to adolescents. 

Older teens, ages 16 and 17, have been allowed to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine since it was authorized in December. The other two vaccines authorized for use in the USA, from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, have not been available to minors because studies are still underway. 

— Karen Weintraub

1:45 p.m. Monday: Arizona reports 642 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths as trends hold relatively steady

Arizona reported 642 new COVID-19 cases and no new known deaths on Monday as trends remained similar to previous weeks. 

Arizona's seven-day case rate per 100,000 people ranked 38th on Sunday among all states and territories after ranking first and second for much of January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID Data Tracker.

The state's seven-day average for new reported COVID-19 cases was at 699 on Monday, compared with 719 two weeks ago. The average had reached as high as 9,800 in January, according to state data.

Arizona's seven-day death rate per 100,000 people ranked 30th in the nation as of Sunday, according to the CDC.

The state's overall COVID-19 death and case rates since Jan. 21, 2020, still remain among the worst in the country.

The COVID-19 death rate in Arizona since the pandemic began is 239 deaths per 100,000 people as of Sunday, according to the CDC, putting it sixth in the country in a state ranking that separates New York City from New York state. The U.S. average is 174 deaths per 100,000 people as of Sunday, the CDC said.

Arizona's known COVID-19 death count remained at 17,409, as no deaths were reported on Monday. Few new deaths are typically reported on Mondays.

Many of the reported deaths occurred days or weeks prior because of reporting delays and death certificate matching.

A total of 869,472 COVID-19 cases have been identified across the state. March and April saw relatively lower case reports. Sixty of the past 64 days' reported cases have been under 1,000. 

— Alison Steinbach