Arizona reports 3,349 new coronavirus cases, 79 more deaths

Jul 24, 2020, 8:23 AM | Updated: 3:05 pm

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 24.

PHOENIX – The Arizona health department reported 3,349 new coronavirus cases and 79 additional deaths on Friday morning.

That brought the state’s documented totals to 156,301 COVID-19 infections and 3,142 fatalities.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in Arizona’s hospitals dropped to its lowest level of the month.

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 or more. They don’t represent the actual activity over the past 24 hours.

The rate of new Arizona coronavirus cases has shown signs of slowing in recent weeks following the implementation of face mask requirements in many areas — including all of Maricopa County — and statewide executive orders to close businesses such as bars and gyms and to restrict restaurant occupancy.

Those moves were made after the state became a global hot spot for the coronavirus, which 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 virus.

According to the Associated Press, the seven-day average for newly reported cases fell to 2,618.71 on Thursday, the lowest point since June 22.

Arizona’s weekly positive rate for diagnostic PCR tests, which indicates how much the virus is spreading, is on pace to fall for the third consecutive week.

For the 9,166 tests given and processed this week, the positive rate is 14%.

The weekly positive rate was 5% in early May and started climbing after Arizona’s stay-at-home order expired. It peaked at 21% the week starting June 28 but had dipped to 15% last week, still much higher than health officials want to see.

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

The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 inpatients dropped Thursday to 2,844, the fewest since June 30 and the eighth day-to-day decline in the past 10 days.

Arizona’s 20-day streak with at least 3,000 COVID-19 inpatients each day ended Wednesday.

The number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds also fell to the lowest point in weeks Thursday, dropping by 14 overnight to 837. That was the fewest since July 4.

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

  • 434 were discharged, the third consecutive day of at least 430.
  • 1,407 were seen in emergency departments, 80 more than the previous day and the most this week.
  • 575 were on ventilators, an overnight drop of 42 and the fewest since July 7. (More than half of the state’s ventilator supply remained unused.)
  • 96 intubations for respiratory distress were performed, 25 more than the previous day and the most since July 17.

Arizona’s overall inpatient and ICU occupancy rates have been relatively stable in recent days at several percentage points below the high marks of the pandemic.

Inpatient beds were 84% full Thursday, 1 percentage point lower than the previous day. The 83% figure seen Monday was the lowest since July 6.

ICU beds were 85% full, 2 percentage points lowere than the previous day and matching the lowest figure seen since June 22.

The inpatient occupancy rate peaked July 9-10 at 88%, and the ICU occupancy rate topped out at 91% on 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:

  • More than six out of 10 of Arizona residents disapprove of Gov. Doug Ducey’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to recent polling.
  • Arizona officials have released tentative plans under which the state’s indoor gyms and fitness centers would be allowed to reopen, but no timetable for when that will happen.
  • There were more than 15.5 million coronavirus cases and 634,000 deaths reported globally as of Friday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. For the U.S., there were more than 4 million cases and 144,000 deaths.
  • When Kathy Nester got her late husband’s death certificate, she was shocked to see COVID-19 listed as one of the causes of death.
  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced a statewide mask campaign aimed at increasing residents’ use of face coverings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Valleywise Health is partnering with the AHCCCS to host a phone bank to help those who have recently become unemployed or uninsured.

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Arizona reports 3,349 new coronavirus cases, 79 more deaths