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This is a regularly updated story with the latest information, news and updates about the coronavirus and its impact in Arizona and beyond for the week starting June 22. (Previous daily updates: June 15-21)
PHOENIX – The Arizona health department on Wednesday reported 79 new coronavirus deaths, a single-day high, but most were older incidents reclassified based on information in death certificates.
About 20 minutes after updating its COVID-19 dashboard with the new numbers, the Arizona Department of Health Services tweeted that 53 of the new deaths were determined through death certificate matching.
Update: 53 of the 79 deaths reported today are from death certificate matching. Learn more about how these deaths are identified from our May 8 blog. https://t.co/hAR7J2GOn6
— AZ Dept of Health (@AZDHS) June 24, 2020
The department also reported 1,795 new coronavirus cases Wednesday morning, about half the previous day’s single-day record of 3,591.
The state now has documented totals of 59,974 cases and 1,463 deaths.
The previous single-day high for deaths was 67 on May 8, which included 35 found through surveillance of death certificates from as far back as the week of April 12.
Tuesday’s report of 42 new deaths was the highest in a day that didn’t include death certificate surveillance.
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 compiles them, which can lag by several days. They aren’t meant to represent the actual activity over the past 24 hours.
Arizona’s reported cases have been rising at a faster rate than testing has increased in the state in recent weeks, prompting government officials to implement new policies regarding face masks and restaurant operations.
State officials have said hospitals have the capacity to handle the rising number of COVID-19 patients. The capacity data on the health department’s website doesn’t include surge beds that can be activated if needed.
For the more than 599,000 PCR tests given for active infections in the state since the start of the pandemic, including 10,052 reported Wednesday, the positive rate jumped to 10.7%, continuing an upward surge since the start of the month. It was 10.5% on Tuesday and had been 6.7% on May 31.
As of Wednesday’s report, 3,830 PCR tests collected since Sunday had be processed, with 21% coming back positive.
Of the PCR samples collected for last week that have been processed, 19% were positive, exceeding the previous pandemic-high mark of 14% from the previous week.
The weekly PCR positive rate has risen every week since the week starting May 10, when it was 5%.
For the ninth consecutive day, the number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients checked into Arizona’s hospitals increased Tuesday, jumping overnight to 2,270 from 2,136.
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has increased by 43% in the past week.
Overall inpatient hospital bed usage has reached a pandemic-high of 86%, according to the latest data. That figure had been in the low to mid-80s the previous two weeks and was 83% a day earlier.
While Arizona’s hospitals are seeing a rise in coronavirus patients, the overall inpatient bed use has remained fairly level with a percentage in the low 80s the past two weeks. It was 83% on Monday.
Overall ICU bed usage also reached a pandemic high at 88%. It had settled in at 83%-85% over the past week and was 84% on Monday.
However, the number ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients declined Tuesday for just the second time in 16 days, dropping overnight to 581 from 614.
Another 190 COVID-19 patients were discharged from Arizona hospitals Tuesday, the third time that plateau was reached or surpassed in the last four days.
Below are the latest developments about the coronavirus pandemic from around the state, country and world:
Wednesday, June 24
- CVS said it was rolling out 15 more drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in Arizona on Friday, bringing the pharmacy giant’s total in the state to 64. Patients must schedule an appointment online to receive the service.
- New coronavirus cases in the U.S. have surged to their highest level in two months and are now back to where they were at the peak of the outbreak.
Tuesday, June 23
- Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez announced an increase of 43 coronavirus cases among the Navajo Nation and a total death toll of 336. While 7,088 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19, there have been approximately 3,754 recoveries.
- Ahead of Arizona’s Aug. 4 primary election date, Maricopa County election officials have announced plans to facilitate voting amid the public health crisis.
- A Valley intensive care unit nurse said she doesn’t feel like the Banner hospital where she works was prepared for a recent influx of coronavirus patients.
Monday, June 22
- Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez reported 55 new COVID-19 cases and zero additional deaths among the Navajo Nation. While 7,045 individuals have tested positive for the coronavirus, there have been approximately 3,716 recoveries.
- Arizona coronavirus testing is currently available to residents at more than 100 statewide sites — including more than 80 locations in metro Phoenix.
- More than 1,100 coronavirus cases have been confirmed among those behind bars at various Arizona facilities.
- The Buckeye City Council canceled a meeting to discuss a face mask policy scheduled for Tuesday and will let the countywide requirements approved Friday by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors stand as the West Valley city’s policy.
For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.