PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona health officials are preparing to move the state's largest COVID-19 vaccination site indoors as temperatures rise and plan to cut the operation from 24 hours a day to 12, Gov. Doug Ducey announced Friday.
Ducey said the site will move April 23 from the parking lot of the Arizona Cardinals stadium in Glendale to the air-conditioned interior of the nearby Coyotes arena. It will run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and will be capable of giving 1,000 shots per hour, according to the governor's office.
State officials have said for weeks they were looking to bring the operation indoors. Plans were announced last week to move a smaller site in the East Valley indoors.
The change comes as Arizona reported its largest daily increase in confirmed COVID-19 infections in three weeks with 940 additional cases and 12 more deaths. Dr. Cara Christ, head of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said there would likely be an increase in cases after Ducey eased health restrictions and ended cities’ mask mandates, but many elderly people most likely to see severe complications of COVID-19 are now vaccinated.
Arizona has now seen a total of 843,132 confirmed cases and 16,989 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the state's coronavirus dashboard.
The Department of Health Services said Friday’s tally included 120 newly reported cases from records that New Mexico provided on Arizona residents who were tested or treated in facilities in the neighboring state during the pandemic.
Even without those cases, Arizona's daily increase was the largest since March 12, when 1,367 new cases were reported.
The state's seven-day rolling average of new cases increased from 565 on March 17 to 601 on Wednesday, while the rolling average of daily deaths continued to drop, from 26 to 15 during the same period, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Ducey on Thursday cited vaccination efforts and recent smaller daily increases of COVID-19 cases as he eased restrictions on elective surgeries and long-term care facilities. Those restrictions were put into place to free up hospital capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients and halt the spread of the coronavirus among residents and workers at care facilities.
For weeks, Ducey has been withdrawing the restrictions he imposed to contain the spread of the virus. He drew scorn from local officials and hospital executives for his decision last week to end capacity limits at restaurants, open bars and nightclubs without restrictions and prohibit local governments from requiring people to wear masks.
In another development, Pima County announced Friday it will expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to anybody 16 and older starting Monday. The change from 55 or older matches age-based eligibility at the county’s sites to that of state-run sites, including one on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson.