| Arizona Republic
Arizona on Sunday reported a relatively low 1,544 new COVID-19 cases and 37 new known deaths as hospitalizations for the disease continued to decline but remained at high levels.
Arizona’s seven-day, new-case average ranked fifth on Saturday among all states, after ranking first and second for much of January, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker.
The state’s rate of new positive cases over the last seven days was 53.7 cases per 100,000 people, per the CDC, trailing South Carolina with 67.5, Texas with 65.5, Arkansas with 57.6 and North Carolina with 55.7 cases per 100,000. The U.S. average for new cases was 37.6 cases per 100,000 people.
The state’s average daily COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people over the past seven days also ranked fifth in the nation as of Saturday, per the CDC.
Arizona’s newly reported 37 deaths brought the known COVID-19 death count to 14,048. The state surpassed 13,000 deaths last Friday, just one week after it passed 12,000 and two weeks after 11,000 deaths. The state exceeded 10,000 known deaths on Jan. 9. Arizona’s first known death from the disease occurred in mid-March.
Many of the deaths occurred days or weeks prior, due to reporting delays and death certificate matching.
In just over one year since the first case was announced in Arizona, a total of 780,637 COVID-19 cases have been identified across the state.
The state reported more than 17,200 new cases on Jan. 3, the highest number of new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day since the pandemic began, toppling the state’s previous record from Dec. 8 by nearly 5,000 cases. The record followed the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weekends.
The Arizona data dashboard shows 88% of all ICU beds and 90% of all inpatient beds in the state were in use Saturday, with 46% of ICU beds and 34% of non-ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. Statewide, 208 ICU beds and 896 non-ICU beds were available.
Hospitalizations for the disease have been dropping gradually for more than three weeks but remain at very high levels.
The number of patients hospitalized in Arizona for known or suspected COVID-19 cases was at 2,910 on Saturday, below the record 5,082 inpatients on Jan. 11. By comparison, the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in a single day during the summer surge was 3,517 on July 13.
The number of patients with suspected or known COVID-19 in ICUs across Arizona was at 838 on Saturday, below the record high of 1,183 on Jan. 11. During the summer surge in mid-July, ICU beds in use for COVID-19 peaked at 970.
Arizonans with confirmed and suspected COVID-19 on ventilators tallied 561 on Saturday, below the record-high 821 reached on Jan. 13. During the summer surge, July 16 was the peak day for ventilator use, with 687 patients.
Saturday saw 1,546 patients in the emergency room for COVID-19, below the Dec. 29 single-day record of 2,341 positive or suspected COVID-19 patients seen in emergency departments across the state.
New cases in Arizona have eclipsed 5,000 for 22 of the past 31 days. Last week saw some lower case reports.
Percent positivity, which refers to the percent of COVID-19 diagnostic tests that are positive, remains high, which many health experts consider an indicator of a spike in illnesses.
Last week, Arizona’s percent positivity stood at 12%. For the week prior to that, it was 16%, according to the state, which has a unique way of calculating percent positivity. Percent positivity was between 4% and 6% for much of August, September and October, according to state data.
Johns Hopkins University calculates Arizona’s seven-day moving average of percent positives at 7.2% as of Sunday. It shows the state’s percent positivity peaked at 24.2% in December.
A positivity rate of 5% is considered a good benchmark that the spread of the disease is under control.
Arizona began its first COVID-19 vaccinations for Phase 1A the week of Dec. 14, but the process has moved slowly. Registration is open in multiple counties for priority Phase 1B individuals and in some places for those 65 and older. Gov. Doug Ducey said the vaccine will be free for anyone.
What to know about Sunday’s numbers
Reported cases in Arizona: 780,637.
Cases since the outbreak began increased by 1,544, or 0.19%, from Saturday’s 779,093 identified cases. These daily cases are grouped by the date they are reported to the Arizona Department of Health Services, not by the date the tests were administered.
Cases by county: 487,042 in Maricopa, 104,675 in Pima, 43,825 in Pinal, 35,729 in Yuma, 20,113 in Mohave, 16,548 in Yavapai, 15,675 in Coconino, 14,907 in Navajo, 10,602 in Cochise, 9,854 in Apache, 7,510 in Santa Cruz, 6,159 in Gila, 5,158 in Graham, 2,300 in La Paz and 536 in Greenlee, according to state numbers.
The rate of cases per 100,000 people is highest in Yuma County, followed by Santa Cruz, Apache, Graham and Navajo counties. The rate in Yuma County is 15,537 cases per 100,000 people. By comparison, the U.S. average rate as of Saturday was 8,028 cases per 100,000 people, according to the CDC.
The Navajo Nation reported 28,872 cases and 1,056 confirmed deaths in total as of Saturday. The Navajo Nation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Tribal leaders halted weekend lockdowns after Jan. 25, although a stay-at-home order and nightly curfew remained in effect.
The Arizona Department of Corrections reported 11,463 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Friday, including 2,134 in Tucson, 1,965 in Eyman, 1,862 in Yuma and 1,130 in Douglas; 43,586 inmates statewide have been tested. A total of 2,576 prison staff members have self-reported testing positive, the department said. Thirty-one incarcerated people in Arizona have been confirmed to have died of COVID-19, with 18 additional deaths under investigation.
Race/ethnicity is unknown for 19% of all COVID-19 cases statewide, but 37% of people are white, 29% are Hispanic or Latino, 5% are Native American, 3% are Black and 1% are Asian/Pacific Islander.
Of those who have tested positive in Arizona since the start of the pandemic, 16% were younger than 20, 44% were 20-44, 15% were 45-54, 12% were 55-64 and 13% were over age 65.
Laboratories have completed 3,548,393 diagnostic tests on unique individuals for COVID-19, 14.8% of which have come back positive. That number includes both PCR and antigen testing. The percentage of positive tests had increased since mid-May but began decreasing in July and held steady around 4% for several weeks, per the state. It was at 12% for the last full week. The state numbers leave out data from labs that do not report electronically.
The Arizona Department of Health Services includes probable cases as anyone with a positive antigen test, another type of test to determine current infection. Antigen tests (not related to antibody tests) are a newer type of COVID-19 diagnostic test that uses a nasal swab or another fluid sample to test for current infection. Results are typically produced within 15 minutes.
A positive antigen test result is considered very accurate, but there’s an increased chance of false-negative results, the Mayo Clinic says. Depending on the situation, Mayo Clinic officials say a doctor may recommend a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test to confirm a negative antigen test result.
Arizona as of Saturday had the sixth-highest overall case rate in the country since Jan. 21, 2020. Ahead of Arizona in cases per 100,000 people since the pandemic began are North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah and Tennessee, according to the CDC.
Arizona’s infection rate is 10,656 cases per 100,000 people, according to the CDC. The national average is 8,028 cases per 100,000 people, though the rates in states hard hit early on in the pandemic may be an undercount because of a lack of available testing in March and April.
Reported deaths in Arizona: 14,048
Deaths by county: 7,971 in Maricopa, 1,904 in Pima, 735 in Yuma, 662 in Pinal, 565 in Mohave, 449 in Navajo, 412 in Yavapai, 326 in Apache, 288 in Coconino, 238 in Cochise, 199 in Gila, 159 in Santa Cruz, 69 in Graham, 65 in La Paz (69 was reported on Friday) and six in Greenlee.
People age 65 and older made up 10,523 of the 14,048 deaths or 75%. Following that, 14% of deaths were in the 55-64 age group, 6% were 45-54 and 4% were 20-44 years old.
While race/ethnicity was unknown for 7% of deaths, 49% of those who died were white, 29% were Hispanic or Latino, 8% were Native American, 3% were Black and 1% were Asian/Pacific Islander, the state data show.
The global death toll as of Sunday morning was 2,312,506 and the U.S. had the highest death count of any country in the world, at 462,466, according to Johns Hopkins University. Arizona’s death total of 14,048 deaths represents 3% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. as of Sunday.
The COVID-19 death rate in Arizona since the pandemic began was 191 per 100,000 people as of Saturday, according to the CDC, putting it ninth in the country in a state ranking that separates New York City from New York state. The U.S. average did not appear to be updating Sunday but was 136 deaths per 100,000 people on Saturday, the CDC said.
New York City has the highest death rate, at 328 deaths per 100,000 people. After that follows New Jersey, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Connecticut and Louisiana.
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