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Arizona reported more than 14,000 new COVID-19 cases but health officials have hope

Former state health director says vaccines and the details of omicron are making the difference.

PHOENIX — Arizona's Department of Health Services reported more than 14,000 new COVID-19 cases on Monday. The report continues a trend of a growing number of positive cases in Arizona and around the country.

Testing sites had hour-long lines regardless of appointment times. According to Embry Health, more than 30,000 COVID-19 tests were conducted before noon on Monday.

The numbers are comparable to one year ago. On January 4 of 2021, ADHS reported more than 12,000 cases.

However, health experts believe the end result won't lead to as many deaths and hospitalizations this time around

RELATED: When will the pandemic end? Omicron changes the equation but doesn't overhaul predictions

“10,000 cases today will not have the same public impact as 10,000 cases a year ago," former state health director Will Humble explained.

ADHS numbers back that up

Despite a similar number of total cases, hospitalizations are way down - nearly five times compared to this time last year.

Humble said there are two main factors behind the numbers: vaccines and the variant.

Humble said now vaccinations are widely available, most people who would be most at risk of the disease have gotten the shot and have protection even with a breakthrough case.

“They have that immunity that T cells those B cells on board to help make sure they don’t have a bad outcome even if they have a breakthrough case,” Humble said.

The second reason is omicron 

Early data indicates while the variant is more contagious, it may not be as likely to hospitalize or kill people.

“It’s a different ball game than it was a year ago,” Humble said.

However, there still is danger here. 

Omicron is extremely contagious, Humble estimates the variant will infect billions of people in the coming months. With so many people getting infected at once, healthcare systems could still become overwhelmed by sheer numbers, even if the hospitalization rate remains low compared to past variants.

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