Arizona’s new-case rate again ranked highest in the country as the state reported about 8,700 new COVID-19 cases and 208 new known deaths from the disease on Saturday.
Arizona surpassed 11,000 known deaths from COVID-19 Friday after passing 10,000 deaths just six days earlier. Many of the deaths occurred days or weeks prior, due to reporting delays and death certificate matching.
The state’s seven-day new-case average again ranked first among all states Saturday after ranking first and second this week and last week, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker.
Arizona’s rate of new positive cases over the last seven days was 126.5 cases per 100,000 people, per the CDC. The U.S. average for new cases is 71.6 cases per 100,000 people.
Arizona’s average daily COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people over the past seven days ranked second in the nation as of Friday, CDC data show.
The state reported more than 17,200 new cases 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 follows the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weekends.
The Arizona data dashboard shows 92% of all ICU beds and 92% of all inpatient beds in the state were in use Friday, with 64% of ICU beds and 56% of non-ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. Statewide, 138 ICU beds and 656 non-ICU beds were available.
Hospital leaders say it’s possible they may need to prioritize medical care with a triage system if COVID-19 continues to spread in Arizona at its current levels.
The number of patients hospitalized in Arizona for known or suspected COVID-19 cases was at 4,849 on Friday, below Monday’s record 5,082 inpatients. 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 1,144 on Friday, slightly below the record high 1,183 on Monday. 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 821 on Friday, tying the record high reached on Wednesday. During the summer surge, July 16 was the peak day for ventilator use, with 687 patients.
Friday saw 1,991 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 28 of the past 30 days.
Saturday’s 8,715 new cases brought the total number of identified COVID-19 cases in the state to 666,901. As of Saturday, 11,248 Arizonans are known to have died from the disease, according to the data dashboard from the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Percent positivity, which refers to the percent of COVID-19 diagnostic tests that are positive, is still near a peak high, which many health experts consider an early indicator of a spike in illnesses.
Last week, Arizona’s percent positivity stood at 22%. For the week prior to that, it was 24%, according to the state, which has a unique way of calculating percent positivity. Percent positivity was at 4% for several weeks during August, September and October, according to state data.
Johns Hopkins University calculates Arizona’s seven-day moving average of percent positives at 14.4% as of Saturday. It shows the state’s percent positivity peaked at 24.2% last month.
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 will open in some places for those 65 and older starting this week. Gov. Doug Ducey said the vaccine will be free for anyone.
What to know about Saturday’s numbers
Reported cases in Arizona: 666,901.
Cases since the outbreak began increased by 8,715, or 1.32%, from Friday’s 658,186 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: 413,282 in Maricopa, 88,878 in Pima, 36,552 in Pinal, 32,736 in Yuma, 16,623 in Mohave, 14,602 in Yavapai, 13,802 in Coconino, 13,193 in Navajo, 9,540 in Cochise, 8,569 in Apache, 7,001 in Santa Cruz, 5,333 in Gila, 4,316 in Graham, 1,995 in La Paz and 479 in Greenlee, according to state numbers.
The rate of cases per 100,000 people is highest in Yuma County, followed by Santa Cruz, Apache and Navajo counties. The rate in Yuma County is 14,236 cases per 100,000 people. By comparison, the U.S. average rate as of Friday was 6,986 cases per 100,000 people, according to the CDC.
The Navajo Nation reported 26,073 cases and 908 confirmed deaths in total as of Friday. The Navajo Nation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Tribal leaders have implemented a stay-at-home lockdown and reinstated weekend curfews due to what officials have called the “uncontrolled spread” of COVID-19 in the tribe’s communities.
The Arizona Department of Corrections reported 8,463 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday, including 1,661 in Yuma, 1,612 in Tucson, 1,279 in Eyman and 1,118 in Douglas; 43,219 inmates statewide have been tested. A total of 2,206 prison staff members have self-reported testing positive, the department said. Twenty-eight incarcerated people in Arizona have been confirmed to have died of COVID-19, with 17 additional deaths under investigation.
Race/ethnicity is unknown for 22% of all COVID-19 cases statewide, but 35% 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, 45% were 20-44, 15% were 45-54, 12% were 55-64 and 13% were over age 65.
Laboratories have completed 3,193,177 diagnostic tests on unique individuals for COVID-19, 14.2% 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 22% for the last full week. The state numbers leave out data from labs that do not report electronically.
The Arizona Department of Health Services has started including 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 use 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 Friday had the 10th 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, Utah, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma, according to the CDC.
Arizona’s infection rate is 8,917 cases per 100,000 people, the CDC said. The national average is 6,986 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: 11,248
Deaths by county: 6,437 in Maricopa, 1,421 in Pima, 632 in Yuma, 487 in Pinal, 437 in Mohave, 392 in Navajo, 325 in Yavapai, 277 in Apache, 245 in Coconino, 191 in Cochise, 166 in Gila, 131 in Santa Cruz, 58 in Graham, 45 in La Paz and four in Greenlee.
People age 65 and older made up 8,377 of the 11,248 deaths, or 74%. Following that, 15% of deaths were in the 55-64 age group, 6% were 45-54 and 5% were 20-44 years old.
While race/ethnicity was unknown for 8% of deaths, 48% of those who died whose race/ethnicity were known were white, 29% were Hispanic or Latino, 9% were Native American, 3% were Black and 1% were Asian/Pacific Islander, the state data show.
The global death toll as of Saturday morning was 2,011,691 and the U.S. had the highest death count of any country in the world, at 392,182, according to Johns Hopkins University. Arizona’s death total of 11,248 deaths represents 2.9% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. as of Saturday.
The COVID-19 death rate in Arizona since the pandemic began was 149 per 100,000 people as of Thursday, according to the CDC, putting it 11th in the country in a state ranking that separates New York City from New York state. The U.S. average is 116 deaths per 100,000 people, the CDC said.
New York City has the highest death rate, at 308 deaths per 100,000 people. After that follows New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, South Dakota, Mississippi, North Dakota, Louisiana, and Illinois.
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