- Associated Press - Thursday, April 15, 2021

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona on Thursday reported 460 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and 14 more deaths as both counts fell below the state’s latest seven-day rolling averages.

The state’s totals rose to 851,725 cases and 17,2123 deaths, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

COVID-19-related hospitalizations continued to range between 500 and 600, with 584 patients occupying inpatient beds as of Wednesday, according to the dashboard.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases as of Wednesday was 717.3, up from 566 two weeks earlier on March 30, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Meanwhile, the rolling average of daily deaths in Arizona dropped from 17.9 to 15.3 during the same period.

The number of people who have received at least one dose of vaccine passed 2.6 million, or 36.6% of the state’s population, with over 1.7 million people being fully vaccinated.

The number of infections is thought to be higher than reported because many people haven’t been tested. Studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

State health officials are also investigating 271 cases involving people who are vaccinated, azfamily.com reported. No deaths have occurred among these “breakthrough” infections, according to the state Department of Health Services.

“We are working to identify patterns or trends in patient characteristics, the administered vaccine, or variant strains,” Department of Health Services spokeswoman Holly Poynter told the TV station.

Dr. Joshua LaBaer, executive director of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, said finding COVID-19 cases among the fully vaccinated is not a surprise because none of the vaccines are 100% effective. This is why the vaccinated should continue wearing masks and social distancing in public, he said.

There are likely more cases that weren’t reported because the vaccines prevented severe symptoms, he added. To have more than 200 cases out of the roughly 1.8 million people who are completely vaccinated is “impressively low,” LaBaer said.

“Ordinarily we would expect many more breakthroughs than this,” LaBaer said an an email. “It is worth remembering that there are viruses … for which we have tried to make vaccines for decades unsuccessfully, and other vaccines (e.g., flu) where we live with effectiveness of approximately 50%.”

More than 4.2 million vaccine doses have been administered so far in Arizona. Roughly 2.6 million people have received a first dose. Per federal recommendations, state and county public health officials have paused administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of a risk of blood clots.

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