Arizona reports 3,910 new coronavirus cases, 91 more deaths

Jul 17, 2020, 8:27 AM | Updated: 6:29 pm
Drive-thru COVID-19 testing takes place at South Mountain Park in Phoenix on July 17. (KTAR News Ph...
Drive-thru COVID-19 testing takes place at South Mountain Park in Phoenix on July 17. (KTAR News Photo/Jim Cross)
(KTAR News Photo/Jim Cross)

This is a regularly updated story with the latest information, news and updates about the coronavirus and its impact in Arizona and beyond for Friday, July 17.

PHOENIX – The Arizona health department reported 3,910 new coronavirus cases and 91 more deaths on Friday morning.

That brought the state’s totals to 138,523 COVID-19 cases and 2,583 fatalities.

Friday’s death report was the second highest in a day that didn’t include cases of death certificate matching, following the 97 reported Wednesday.

The Arizona Department of Health Services has been providing case and testing updates on its website each morning. The dashboard includes, among other information, testing trends, updated hospital capacity and a ZIP code map of cases.

The daily reports present data after the state receives statistics and confirms them, which can lag by several days. They don’t represent the actual activity over the past 24 hours.

New COVID-19 cases have been increasing in Arizona at a faster rate than testing has been increasing, indicating community spread of a virus that has no impact on some people and is seriously debilitating or fatal for others. Infected people without symptoms – which include but are not limited to cough, fever and difficulty breathing — are capable of spreading the coronavirus.

Face coverings can help prevent the virus’ spread, health experts say, and are required in public throughout the Phoenix area and many other Arizona communities when social distancing isn’t possible.

Arizona’s weekly positive rate for PCR tests, which diagnose active coronavirus infections, had been steadily rising since early May, when it was 5%, but is showing signs of leveling off. The positive rate for last week’s completed tests is 17%, which, if it holds up, would be the first weekly decline in 10 weeks. It reached a high point of 21% the previous week.

Weekly rates are based on when the samples are taken, not when they are reported, so the rates for recent weeks can fluctuate as labs get caught up on testing.

The positive rate for the 16,913 tests given this week that were processed as of Friday’s report was 18%.

There have been more than 764,000 PCR tests completed in Arizona since the start of the pandemic, including 15,664 added to the reported total Friday, with a positive rate of 14.4%. The positive rate was at 14.3% Thursday, 12% on the last day of June and 6.7% on the last day of May.

The number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in Arizona’s hospitals ticked up overnight by 12 to 3,466 on Thursday, ending a two-day stretch of declines.

The number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds also increased for the first time in three days, going up by 26 to 944, the second-highest total of the pandemic.

According to hospital data for Thursday, 50.8% of all Arizona inpatients and 62.3% of the state’s ICU patients are confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases.

In other notable hospital data from Thursday related to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients:

  • 500 were discharged, 29 fewer than the previous day and the fifth most ever.
  • 1,574 were seen in emergency departments, 121 fewer than the previous day and the eighth day-to-day drop in the past nine days.
  • 687 were on ventilators, 30 more than the previous day and a new record high.
  • 104 intubations for respiratory distress were performed, two fewer than the previous day and the third consecutive daily decline.

Overall ventilator use reached a pandemic high of 1,030, representing 54% of the state’s supply. Two-thirds of the patients on the breathing machines are confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases.

Arizona’s overall inpatient and ICU occupancy rates have been high but stable in recent reports, and Thursday was no different.

Inpatient beds were 87% full for the third consecutive day and have been at least 85% full each of the past 10 days, peaking at 88% on July 10.

ICU beds were 90% full, 1 percentage point higher than the previous day. The ICU occupancy rate has been at least 88% each day since June 30, with a high of 91% reported July 7.

Hospital bed data on the health department website does not include surge beds that have not been activated but can potentially increase capacity.

Below are Friday’s latest developments about the coronavirus pandemic from around the state, country and world:

  • Grand Canyon University on Friday became the latest Arizona college to adjust plans for the fall semester because of the state’s continued battle with coronavirus.
  • Arizona Senate Democrats released a statement Thursday calling for a “more comprehensive approach” to the handling of the coronavirus, saying Gov. Doug Ducey has taken a “fragmented strategy.”
  • Banner Health, Arizona’s largest hospital network, confirmed it is utilizing about 1,000 out-of-state workers to help combat the state’s rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
  • The Watts Family Maryvale YMCA on 67th Avenue near Indian School Road in Phoenix will host free drive-thru COVID-19 diagnostic testing each weekend through August, starting Saturday. Pre-registration is required.
  • Three research clinics in the Phoenix area and one in Tucson will be a part of the final phase of testing for a coronavirus vaccine that so far is proving to be effective.

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Arizona reports 3,910 new coronavirus cases, 91 more deaths