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Arizona reports nearly 500 new virus cases, 12 deaths

May 15, 2021 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona health officials on Saturday reported nearly 500 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and a dozen new deaths amid growing vaccination rates.

The state Department of Health Services reported 474 new cases, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 872,496. The 12 new deaths brought the total number tallied in Arizona to 17,459.

Daily case numbers in Arizona have ping-ponged within the 400 to 600-plus range for the past week. The number of patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 rose slightly to 595 on Friday. The number of those in an ICU dipped to 188.

Pima County officials on Friday dropped their mandatory mask mandate for fully vaccinated people in line with new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tucson’s mayor will ask the City Council to do the same in the coming days. Mask ordinances in Phoenix and other cities remain in place but are likely to be eased as well.

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The state reported nearly 20,000 vaccinations on Friday, and more than 5.4 million doses have been administered so far in the state. More than 3 million, or 43% of the eligible population in Arizona, have received at least one dose. Over 2.5 million people are estimated to be fully vaccinated.

Public health officials expect the demand for doses to rise with 12- to 15-year-olds eligible as of Thursday.