Arizona reports 6,058 new coronavirus cases, 54 more deaths

Dec 23, 2020, 8:28 AM | Updated: 4:52 pm

Medical staff members work to extract a muscle sample from a patient for a muscle biopsy examinatio...

Medical staff members work to extract a muscle sample from a patient for a muscle biopsy examination in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center on December 22, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

(Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

This is a regularly updated story with the latest information about the coronavirus and its impact in Arizona and beyond for Dec. 23, 2020.

PHOENIX – Arizona health officials on Wednesday reported 6,058 new coronavirus cases and 54 additional deaths, while the state’s hospitals are dealing with record numbers of COVID-19 patients.

The state’s documented totals increased to 473,273 COVID-19 infections and 8,179 fatalities, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

The 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.

Multiple COVID-19 metrics in Arizona remain at or near pandemic highs.

The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 hospital inpatients surged to an all-time high of 4,163 on Tuesday, an increase of 144 from the previous day. It was the 10th daily record for coronavirus inpatients in the last 12 days.

The number of COVID-19 patients in the state’s ICU beds was up to 972, breaking the July 13 record of 970.

Statewide, suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients took up 49% of all inpatient beds, a record high, and 55% of all ICU beds.

Overall, inpatient beds were 92% filled and ICU beds were a pandemic-record 93% full. The state was down to 119 unused ICU beds, the lowest number of the pandemic.

The seven-day average for the health department’s newly reported COVID-19 deaths shot up to 100.43 for Tuesday, according to tracking by The Associated Press, breaking the July 30 record of 94.

The rolling seven-day average for newly reported cases was 6,119 for Tuesday, up slightly from the previous day but the second-lowest mark since Dec. 11.

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 reach a record high after leveling off in recent weeks.

For 12,304 tests recorded for this week, the positivity rate was 21%, which would match the record from the week starting June 28.

The rate was 18% for the previous three weeks.

Official positivity 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 hospitalization data posted each morning is reported electronically the previous evening by 100 hospitals across the state, as required under executive order.

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.

Information about testing locations can be found on the Arizona Department of Health Services website.

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

  • The Navajo Nation reported 157 new coronavirus cases and no recent deaths, bringing the documented totals to 21,513 infections and 755 fatalities.
  • With COVID-19 surging across Arizona, multiple facilities in the Arizona’s largest hospital system, Banner Health, have cut back on elective surgeries and are operating at over 100% capacity.
  • A group of Arizona State University students won $500,000 in a face mask design competition aimed at overcoming common complaints about the protective wear.
  • President Donald Trump has threatened to torpedo Congress’ massive COVID-19 relief and year-end package, upending a hard-fought compromise in the midst of a raging pandemic and deep economic uncertainty by demanding changes fellow Republicans have opposed.
  • The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell by 89,000 last week to a still-elevated 803,000, evidence that the job market remains under stress nine months after the coronavirus outbreak sent the U.S. economy into recession and caused millions of layoffs.
  • Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said she is “hopeful” the state’s hospitals will have enough manpower to handle the ongoing surge in COVID-19 patients.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech will supply the U.S. with an additional 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine under a second agreement.
  • Will Humble, Arizona Public Health Association executive director, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Chad and Gaydos Show that a new coronavirus variant discovered in the United Kingdom may already be in the United States but it’s not worrying.
  • Globally, there were about 78.17 million COVID-19 cases and 1.72 million deaths as of Wednesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University research. The figures for the U.S. were around 18.24 million cases and 323,000 deaths.

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Arizona reports 6,058 new coronavirus cases, 54 more deaths