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Arizona adds record 172 new COVID-19 deaths, 78 from certificate matching

(Photo by Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images)

This is a regularly updated story with the latest information, news and updates about the coronavirus and its impact in Arizona and beyond for Thursday, July 30.

PHOENIX – Arizona health authorities reported 172 new coronavirus deaths Thursday, the most in a single day, although 78 of them were identified through death certificate matching.

Arizona Department of Health Services also reported 2,525 new cases, bringing the state’s documented totals to 170,798 COVID-19 infections and 3,626 fatalities.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in Arizona’s hospitals continued a steady decline after peaking in mid-July.

The 94 deaths not attributed to certificate matches represented the third time since Saturday that the state reported at least new 90 deaths. (Dr. Cara Christ, the state’s health director, explained the matching process in a May 8 blog post.)

On Saturday, the state reported 144 new deaths, a record for a day with no death certificate matches included. Until Thursday, the highest report that included death certificate matching was 147 on July 18.

The seven-day average for newly reported deaths was 80.17 on Wednesday, the second day-to-day decline after hitting a record high of 86.83 on Monday, according to tracking by The Associated Press.

The seven-day average for newly reported cases was 2,523.43 on Wednesday, up slightly from the previous day but still the second-lowest mark since June 21. The seven-day new case average has been trending downward since peaking at 3,844 on July 6.

The rate of new Arizona coronavirus cases has shown signs of slowing in the weeks after 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.

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

The positive rate is 11% so far this week, but only 11,097 tests given since Sunday have been reported by labs as completed. 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 backlogs.

For the 43,590 tests given and processed last week, the positive rate is 12%, the lowest since it was 12% for the week starting May 31.

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.

The Arizona health department’s daily reports present case, death and testing 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 hospitalization data posted each morning, however, is reported the previous evening by the hospitals.

The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 inpatients dropped Wednesday to 2,348, the fewest since June 23 and the eighth consecutive day-to-day decline.

The number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds also fell to the lowest point in weeks, dropping by 42 overnight to 758. That was the fewest since July 2.

The number of COVID-19 inpatients peaked at 3,517 on July 13, and the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds topped out 970 the same day.

Overall, Arizona inpatient and ICU bed usage showed little change Wednesday.

Inpatient beds were 83% full Wednesday for the second consecutive day. The inpatient occupancy rate peaked July 9-10 at 88%.

The ICU occupancy rate was 86% Wednesday, the second consecutive day showing a 1 percentage point increase. 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 Thursday’s latest developments about the coronavirus pandemic from around the state, country and world:

  • Public health experts are seeing a flicker of good news amid the mounting coronavirus death toll in the U.S.: The second surge of confirmed cases appears to be leveling off.
  • The White House offered a short-term extension of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that has helped keep families and the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Democrats rejected it, saying President Donald Trump’s team failed to grasp the severity of the crisis.
  • Gov. Doug Ducey called out Sonora Quest Laboratories, saying the lab giant needs to “step up their game” to eliminate a hefty backlog in coronavirus testing results.
  • The University of Arizona revealed new details of its plan to ramp up in-person classes after instruction starts in less than a month.
  • The Arizona Early Childhood Alliance said COVID-19 has caused “insurmountable challenges” to the industry, including creating uncertainty over the ability for child care programs to remain open.
  • Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain died after battling the coronavirus. The former Godfather’s Pizza executive was 74.
  • Overall deaths in Maricopa County are higher now than one year ago, but the exact role the COVID-19 has played is currently unknown.
  • There were more than 17 million coronavirus cases and 667,000 deaths reported globally as of Thursday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. For the U.S., there were more than 4.4 million cases and 150,000 deaths.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit

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