Arizona reports 706 new coronavirus cases with 148 more deaths

Aug 12, 2020, 8:28 AM | Updated: Aug 13, 2020, 8:30 am
covid-19 coronavirus testing...
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mario Tama/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 Wednesday, Aug. 12.

PHOENIX – Arizona health authorities reported 706 new coronavirus cases with 148 additional deaths on Wednesday morning.

It was the third time in the past four days with a new case report under 1,000, but also the second-most COVID-19 deaths added in a day ever.

That brought the state’s documented totals to 189,443 infections and 4,347 fatalities, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

More than 90 minutes after the daily numbers were released, the health department tweeted that 96 of the new deaths were determined through death certificate matching. The single-day pandemic high of 172 deaths reported July 30 included 78 death certificate matches.

Dr. Cara Christ, the state’s health director, explained the matching process in a May 8 blog post.

Multiple key metrics about the severity of Arizona’s pandemic, including coronavirus-related hospitalizations, are at or near the lowest they’ve been in a month or more.

The rolling seven-day average for newly reported cases was 1,176 on Tuesday, a tick higher than the previous day but near the low point of the past two months, according to tracking by The Associated Press.

The seven-day average of newly reported deaths dipped to 50.57, the lowest since July 11.

The spread of coronavirus in Arizona has been slowing in the weeks after the implementation of face mask requirements by local governments 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.

On Monday, state officials released a roadmap for closed business to resume operations once certain countywide data benchmarks that measure the prevalence of COVID-19 are reached. Only two counties – Yavapai and La Paz – met the benchmarks for the first phase of reopening.

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

For the 6,606 samples taken since Sunday that have been processed, the positive rate is 6%. If that rate holds up, it would be the lowest since the week starting May 17.

The positive rate is 8% for the 52,556 tests completed from last week.

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.

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 hospital data posted each morning, however, is reported the previous evening by the hospitals and shows coronavirus-related hospitalizations trending down for the past month.

The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 inpatients fell to 1,469 on Tuesday, the fewest since June 14.

The number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds increased for the second consecutive day to 519. However, beyond the three previous days, it was the fewest since June 15.

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

Overall, Arizona inpatient and ICU bed usage rates ticked up Tuesday but remained near their lowest levels in two months.

Inpatient beds were 81% full on Tuesday, 2 points above the previous day. The inpatient occupancy rate peaked at 88% on July 9-10.

The ICU occupancy rate went up 1 point to 80%. It 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 Wednesday’s latest developments about the coronavirus pandemic from around the state, country and world:

  • Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez reported 22 additional cases of COVID-19 and four more virus-related deaths among the Navajo Nation.
  • Stein Mart, a national discount department store chain, filed for bankruptcy after 112 years in business, and announced that it will close most, if not all, of its 280 stores.
  • The legal battle between Mountainside Fitness and Gov. Doug Ducey continued as the health club filed a motion of contempt against the governor over newly released benchmarks for businesses to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Negotiations over a new virus relief package have all but ended, with the White House and congressional leaders far apart on the size, scope and approach for shoring up households, re-opening schools and launching a national strategy to contain the virus.
  • Multiple Arizona schools have announced plans to open up classrooms next week, disregarding health guidelines and the wishes of the state’s top education official.
  • The Arizona Department of Child Safety usually sees an increase in child abuse cases reported as students head back to school, and it’s possible that increase could be even higher this time than previous years.
  • There were more than 20.3 million coronavirus cases and 743,000 deaths reported globally as of Wednesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. For the U.S., there were more than 5.1 million cases and 164,000 deaths.

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