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Arizona reports 994 new coronavirus cases, 5 more deaths

Medical personnel prepare to administer a COVID-19 swab at a drive-through testing site in Lawrence, N.Y., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. U.S. health officials are redefining what it means to have close contact with someone with COVID-19. On Wednesday, the CDC changed it to a total of 15 minutes or more, so briefer but repeated contacts that add up to 15 minutes now count. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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, Oct. 22.

PHOENIX – Arizona health authorities reported 994 new coronavirus cases and five additional deaths on Thursday morning.

That put the state’s documented totals at 234,906 COVID-19 infections and 5,859 fatalities, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Key metrics about the severity of Arizona’s pandemic have dropped dramatically from summertime peaks, but cases and hospitalizations have been trending upward this month.

The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 hospital inpatients rose to 848 on Wednesday, 44.7% higher than Oct. 1, when it was 586.

The number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds dipped to 164, 31.2% higher than Oct. 1, when it was 125.

The hospitalizations remain far under the pandemic highs of 3,517 inpatients and 970 ICU patients, both recorded July 13.

Arizona’s weekly percent positivity for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, an indicator of how much the virus is spreading in the community, is on pace to be the highest seen in more than two months.

For the 21,922 tests recorded since Sunday, the positivity rate was 7%, the highest since it was 8% for the week starting Aug. 2. The rate had been as high as 20% at the end of June.

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 and the results are documented by the state.

The rolling seven-day average for the state health department’s newly reported cases was at 896.71 for Wednesday, according to tracking by The Associated Press, 87% higher than the average of 480 on Oct. 1.

The seven-day average of newly reported deaths remains below what it was at the start of October but has doubled in the past week from under six to 11.71.

The seven-day averages remain well below their peaks of 3,844 cases on July 6 and 94 fatalities on July 30.

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 is reported the previous evening by the hospitals.

As cases skyrocketed in June, local governments in many parts of Arizona — including all of Maricopa County — implemented face mask requirements, and Gov. Doug Ducey issued statewide executive orders to close certain businesses and restrict restaurant occupancy.

The spread of COVID-19 slowed after those steps were taken. All of Arizona’s counties have since hit benchmarks established by the health department that allow closed businesses to reopen under capacity restrictions and other regulations.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, 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.


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

  • The Navajo Nation reported 70 new coronavirus cases and zero recent deaths, bringing the totals to 11,101 cases and 574 deaths. The Navajo Department of Health issued an emergency order  on Thursday to implement a 56-hour weekend lockdown starting Friday at 9 p.m. until Monday at 5 a.m.
  • U.S. regulators approved the first drug to treat COVID-19: remdesivir, an antiviral medicine given to hospitalized patients through an IV.
  • Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said she’s “highly concerned” that the state will see a COVID-19 spike after the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • COVID-19 metrics are on the rise in multiple Arizona counties, but not enough to alter classifications in the state’s school and business dashboards.
  • Health Director Dr. Cara Christ said that the Arizona’s schools “have done a great job” dealing with COVID-19, and that their response to outbreaks should vary depending on the situation.
  • Globally, there were more than 41.34 million COVID-19 cases and 1.13 million deaths as of Thursday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The figures for the U.S. were around 8.34 million cases and 222,000 deaths.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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