A health worker takes a sample from a person with COVID-19 symptoms for testing at a hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
This is a regularly updated story with the latest information, news and updates about the coronavirus and its impact in Arizona and beyond for Friday, Aug. 21.
PHOENIX – Arizona health authorities reported 619 new coronavirus cases and four more deaths on Friday morning.
That put the state’s documented totals at 196,899 COVID-19 infections and 4,688 fatalities, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
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 declined Wednesday to 783.71, the lowest seen since June 4, according to tracking by The Associated Press.
The seven-day average of newly reported deaths ticked up to 43, the second-lowest mark since July 10.
The seven-day average for new cases peaked July 6 at 3,844, and the stat for deaths reached a high of 94 on July 30.
The spread of coronavirus in Arizona has been slowing in the month-plus since 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.
Arizona’s weekly positive rate for COVID-19 diagnostic tests, which shows how much the virus is spreading, is on pace to decline for the seventh consecutive week.
For the 21,469 samples taken since Sunday that have been processed and recorded, the positive rate is 5%. If it holds up, it would be the lowest rate since the week starting May 10.
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 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 at their lowest points since early June.
The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 inpatients fell to 1,070 on Thursday, the fewest since June 1.
The number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds dipped to 365, the fewest since May 25.
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, inpatient beds were 83% full on Thursday, 1 point higher than the previous day. The inpatient occupancy rate peaked at 88% on July 9-10.
The ICU occupancy rate was 78%, for the second consecutive day. 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 Friday’s latest developments about the coronavirus pandemic from around the state, country and world:
Navajo Nation reported 12 coronavirus cases and two deaths. The community has now reported 9,531 total cases and 489 deaths. A total of 7,007 individuals have recovered.
There have been 95 approvals for businesses to reopen. That includes eight bars, 83 gyms and four theaters. A total of 200 businesses have been declined, including 102 bars, 97 gyms and one theater.
Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona’s health director, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show that the state wouldn’t immediately force business to close again if COVID-19 metrics take a turn for the worse.
Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show that the lag time in data for the state’s schools and businesses dashboards helps ensure accurate information.
Although it starts in October, plans are already underway in Arizona to take on this year’s flu season as the state still deals with the coronavirus.
There were more than 22.7 million coronavirus cases and 794,000 deaths reported globally as of Thursday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. For the U.S., there were more than 5.5 million cases and 174,000 deaths.
For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.