1,621 new circumstances; deaths proceed to rise

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Arizona reported 1,621 new COVID-19 cases and 83 new known deaths on Friday as hospital stays because of the disease fell to levels the state has not seen since early November.

The state’s COVID-19 death rate is among the worst in the country.

The COVID-19 death rate in Arizona since the pandemic started was 215 per 100,000 people on Thursday, ranking it in sixth place in a state ranking, New York City, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention City of New York separates state. The US average on Thursday was 151 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the CDC.

New York City had the highest death rate with 346 deaths per 100,000 people. This was followed by New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Mississippi.

According to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, Arizona’s average number of new daily cases over the past seven days was below all states on Thursday Thursday, after ranking first and second for most of January.

The daily average rate of new positive cases over the past seven days was 21.4 cases per 100,000 people, according to the CDC. New York City was the first with 46.9 cases per 100,000. The US average for new cases was 20 cases per 100,000 people.

The state’s average daily COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people over the past seven days ranked fourth in the nation-associated with Alabama on Thursday, according to the CDC.

Arizona’s newly reported 83 deaths brought the known COVID-19 number to 15,897. The state passed 15,000 deaths on February 17, after recording 14,000 deaths on February 6 and 13,000 deaths on January 29, just one week after 12,000 and two weeks after 11,000 deaths. The state exceeded 10,000 known deaths on January 9. Arizona’s first known death from the disease occurred in mid-March.

Many of the deaths occurred days or weeks earlier as delays were reported and the death certificate matched.

In just over a year since the first Arizona case was announced, a total of 814,528 COVID-19 cases have been identified across the state. Relatively few cases were reported in February.

The Arizona data dashboard shows that 86% of all ICU beds and 89% of all inpatient beds in the state were in use on Friday, with 24% of ICU beds and 16% of ICU beds outside of COVID-19 Patients were occupied. Nationwide, 247 beds were available in the intensive care unit and 964 beds outside the intensive care unit.

Hospital stays for the disease have been falling for more than six weeks but remain at a relatively high level.

The total number of patients hospitalized in Arizona for known or suspected COVID-19 cases was 1,354 on Thursday, up from 1,385 inpatients on Wednesday, and well below the record of 5,082 inpatients on Jan. 11 during a single day the summer rise on July 13 was 3,517.

The number of suspected or known COVID-19 patients in intensive care units across Arizona was 419 on Thursday, up from 415 on Wednesday, and well below the record high of 1,183 on Jan. 11. During the summer surge in mid-July, the beds in the intensive care unit were in use for COVID-19 reached a high of 970.

Arizonans with confirmed and suspected COVID-19 on ventilators hit 225 on Thursday, up from 241 on Wednesday, and well below the record high of 821 on Jan. 13. During the summer surge, July 16 was the peak day for ventilator use by patients with 687.

As of Thursday, 1,190 patients were in the emergency room for COVID-19, down from the December 29th record of 2,341 positive or suspected COVID-19 patients in emergency rooms across the state.

The percent positivity, which relates to the percentage of positive COVID-19 diagnostic tests, has decreased, but varies somewhat depending on the type of measurement.

Last week, Arizona’s percent positivity stayed at 9% for the second straight week, according to the state, which has a unique way to calculate percent positivity. According to government data, the percent positivity was between 4% and 6% for much of August, September, and October.

Johns Hopkins University calculates the seven-day Arizona moving average as a percentage of positive results as of Thursday at 4.4%. It shows that the state’s percentage positivity peaked at 24.2% in December.

A positivity rate of 5% or less is considered a good measure of whether the spread of the disease is under control.

Arizona began its first COVID-19 vaccinations for Phase 1A in the week of December 14, but the process has been slow due to limited vaccine supplies. Registration is available in priority countries or for all Phase 1B individuals and in most locations for individuals aged 65 and over. Governor Doug Ducey said the vaccine was free for everyone.

By Friday, more than 1.2 million people across the country had received at least one dose of vaccine, with nearly half a million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with two doses.

What you should know about Friday’s numbers

Reported cases in Arizona: 814,528.

Cases since the outbreak began, up 1,621, or 0.2%, from the 812,907 cases identified on Thursday. These daily cases are grouped by the date they are reported to the Arizona Department of Health, not the date the tests were performed.

Cases by county: 508,997 in Maricopa, 109,937 in Pima, 46,003 in Pinal, 36,392 in Yuma, 21,110 in Mohave, 17,009 in Yavapai, 16,485 in Coconino, 15,555 in Navajo, 11,145 in Cochise, 10,441 in Apache, 7,626 in Santa Cruz, 6,392 in Gila, 5,286 in Graham, 2,392 in La Paz and 558 in Greenlee, according to state figures.

The rate of fall per 100,000 people since the pandemic began is highest in Yuma County, followed by Apache, Santa Cruz, Navajo and Graham counties. The rate in Yuma County is 15,826 cases per 100,000 people. By comparison, the average US rate since the pandemic began is 8,476 cases per 100,000 people, according to the CDC on Wednesday.

The Navajo Nation reported 29,655 cases and a total of 1,161 confirmed deaths Thursday. The Navajo Nation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Tribal leaders suspended the lockdowns the weekend after January 25th, although a stay at home and night curfew order remained in place.

The Arizona Department of Justice reported that by Thursday, 11,955 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19, including 2,239 in Tucson, 2,006 in Yuma, 2,001 in Eyman, 1,307 in Lewis and 1,158 in Douglas; Nationwide 43,613 inmates were tested. A total of 2,678 prison staff have reported positive tests themselves, the department said. 35 people arrested in Arizona have been confirmed to have died from COVID-19. Another 18 deaths are being investigated.

Race / ethnicity is unknown for 18% of all COVID-19 cases across the state, but 37% of positive cases were whites, 30% Hispanic or Latino, 5% are Native Americans, 3% are blacks, and 1% are Asian / Pacific Islanders.

Of those who tested positive since the Arizona pandemic began, 16% were younger than 20, 44% were 20-44, 15% were 45-54, 12% were 55-64, and 13% were over 65 years of age.

The laboratories have performed 3,740,067 individual diagnostic tests for COVID-19, of which 14.5% were positive. This number includes both PCR and antigen tests. The percentage of positive tests had increased since mid-May but began to decrease in July and remained constant at 4% per state for several weeks. For the last full week it was 9%. The status numbers omit data from laboratories that do not report electronically.

The Arizona Department of Health covers likely cases such as people with a positive antigen test, another type of test used to determine current infection. Antigen tests (not related to antibody tests) are newer diagnostic COVID-19 tests that use a nasal swab or other fluid sample to test for current infections. Results are usually generated within 15 minutes.

A positive antigen test result is considered very accurate, but there is an increased chance of false negative results, says the Mayo Clinic. Depending on the situation, Mayo Clinic officials say that a doctor may recommend a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm a negative antigen test result.

Arizona had the sixth highest total case rate in the country since Jan. 21, 2020. According to Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah and Tennessee rank ahead of Arizona in cases per 100,000 people since the pandemic began, the CDC said.

According to the CDC, the infection rate in Arizona is 11,155 cases per 100,000 people. The national average is 8,476 cases per 100,000 people, although rates in states that were severely affected at the start of the pandemic may be undercounted in March and April due to a lack of available tests.

Reported deaths in Arizona: 15,897

Deaths by county: 9,061 in Maricopa, 2,212 in Pima, 783 in Yuma, 764 in Pinal, 642 in Mohave, 489 in Navajo, 458 in Yavapai, 381 in Apache, 309 in Coconino, 265 in Cochise, 213 in Gila, 167 in Santa Cruz, 72 in Graham, 71 in La Paz and 10 in Greenlee.

People aged 65 and over account for 11,910 of the 15,897 deaths, or 75%. After that, 15% of the deaths were in the 55-64 age group, 6% were 45-54 years old, and 4% were 20-44 years old.

While race / ethnicity was unknown for 7% of the deaths, 49% of those who died were white, 29% Hispanic or Latin American, 8% were Native American, 3% were black, and 1% were Asian Pacific islanders.

The global death toll was 2,510,343 as of Friday morning, and the United States had the highest death toll of any country in the world at 508,359, according to Johns Hopkins University. Arizona’s total of 15,897 deaths represents 3.1% of the COVID-19 deaths in the US on Friday.

Republic Reporter at Alison Steinbach contributed to this story.

Reach health reporter Stephanie Innes at Stephanie.Innes@gannett.com or at 602-444-8369. Follow her on Twitter @stephanieinnes.

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