GLENDALE, Ariz. (NewsNation Now) — More than 10,000 Arizonans have died from COVID-19 as the state remains a hotspot for the pandemic.
Health officials have opened dozens of vaccination sites, including one at the 63,000 plus capacity State Farm Arena where people have been filing through nonstop for more than 24 hours.
Just one day after starting operations at State Farm Stadium, health workers are seeing an endless parade of Arizonans eager to be vaccinated. The site is open 24/7 and the state aims to vaccinate up to 500 people an hour.
“I had a stroke about a year and a half ago,” said teacher Steve Grosz. “I’m worried how it would affect me. I’m overweight. I’m almost 50-years-old. I want to be with students but I want to be safe and we’ve done everything we can to be that way.”
Grosz teaches radio and audio production at a career and technical high school where in-person learning is allowed. He was thrilled by Monday’s expansion of vaccinations to those in Priority Phase 1B.
For weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has had Arizona at the top of the list for average daily cases. It’s currently 129 per 100,000.
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“Cases and percent positivity continue to rise. As are in-patient and intensive care unit beds are occupied by those with COVID-19,” said Dr. Cara Christ, AZ Health Director.
On Tuesday, Arizona reported 335 deaths and more than 8500 new COVID-19 cases.
More vaccinations have Arizona’s governor focused on education.
“We are making sure that teachers get the vaccine as quickly as possible,” said Gov. Doug Ducey.
In his State of the State address, Ducey defended his handling of the pandemic and pushed for a full return to in-person learning.
“We will not be funding empty seats or allowing schools to remain in a perpetual state of closure,” he said. “Children still need to learn. Even in a pandemic.”
Despite stepped-up vaccinations, many educators remain wary. More than 500 in the state have already left the profession, according to the Arizona School Personnel Administration.
“I understand the point: you shut down, you kill businesses. But you either kill businesses or you kill people and it’s a hard decision to make. I’m glad I don’t have to make it,” said Grosz.