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8 dead, 500 Arizonans reported with CV-19; 75 cases in Pima County

'Widespread transmission'; total tests remain unknown

More than 500 Arizonans now have recorded positive tests for COVID-19. 8 have died, as reported cases again grew overnight. 75 Pima County residents have been diagnosed with coronavirus, with two deaths here.

Eight people have died in the state from COVID-19, including 2 in Pima County — the latest of those deaths was announced Thursday morning. Four people have died in Maricopa County. Officials are now saying the virus has reached "widespread transmission" across the state.

The rate of reported spread slowed somewhat, but recorded cases still continued to climb. Diagnosed cases had been increasing by 50 percent day after day, but the figures released Wednesday and Thursday mornings were about 25 percent larger than the previous day's total.

The total number of tests being run on Arizona patients is still not known to the press or public.

Thursday morning, state officials reported that 508 patients in Arizona had tested positive for the disease. Wednesday morning, 401 Arizona residents were reported as positive. Tuesday, there were 326 reported cases, with 235 on Monday. Sunday, that figure was 152.

State officials have been releasing daily data summaries just after 9 a.m. each day. County information generally comes later in the day.

A majority of cases in Pima and Maricopa counties are younger than 60.

An additional case was reported Wednesday morning by Cochise County officials, and is now included in the state tally. A previous Cochise CV-19 patient was disclosed Friday. Santa Cruz County also now has two reported diagnosed cases of the viral disease.

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Sixty-nine recorded positive patients live on the Navajo Nation, an increase of 20 on Wednesday. Those positive reported cases are now being included in the daily tallies released by the Arizona Department of Health Services, officials said.

The entire reservation has been placed on lockdown by tribal leaders, as has the landlocked Hopi Reservation within the Navajo Nation.

The outbreak has reached at least 13 of Arizona's 15 counties. The largest group of cases has been reported in Maricopa County: 251 patients there have been diagnosed.

"Given widespread transmission, all Arizonans should expect that COVID-19 is circulating in their community," said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. "COVID-19 is a serious disease that is highly contagious and can be fatal in anyone, especially our elderly population and people with underlying health conditions. Protecting those at highest risk of complications and ensuring that our healthcare system is prepared to deal with a surge in cases is our highest priority. It is imperative that everyone takes precautions to protect themselves and their family from this disease."

Seventy-five Pima County residents have now been diagnosed.

Of those reported by Wednesday, 25 are men and 21 women, with 12 cases older than 65. 15 are ages 41-65, with 18 adults between the ages of 18 and 40.

Of the Pima residents reported earlier, 15 were men and 10 are women, and nearly nine were older than 65. 7 were adults 40 or under, and 9 were ages 41-65. Eight were hospitalized, with 2 in intensive care.

Wednesday morning, Pima officials removed the number of people hospitalized and in ICU from their online dashboard.

In Maricopa County, with 299 reports (an increase from 251 on Wednesday), 161 are men and 138 are women. 2 patients are younger than 18, with 106 ages 18-39, 100 reported patients 40-59 years old, and 91 who are 60 or older.

Of those, 58 of the reported cases had been hospitalized, with 20 in ICU, Maricopa officials said. One ICU patient had been transferred "back to their home jurisdiction," they said. The Maricopa hospitalization count includes every patient who has ever been admitted, and is not necessarily a current tally, they said.

A majority of patients with reported positive tests in Pima and Maricopa counties are under retirement age, with fewer than 30 percent here older than 65, and 30 percent in Maricopa over age 60. The counties are not using the same age ranges when releasing data, so direct comparisons are not possible.

Limited data on limited tests

Health officials have repeatedly said that the number of reported cases is just a fraction of the number of Arizonans who are carrying COVID-19. With limited testing capacity still, only the sickest people with known possible coronavirus contacts have been being tested.

Many people carry the virus without developing symptoms for days, but still spread it to others they come in contact with — which is why doctors and public health experts repeatedly emphasize that people should remain at home as much as possible to help contain the outbreak.

Monday, officials said that a Pima County woman in her 50s had died of COVID-19, making her the third death from the disease in the state. She had underlying health conditions, officials said.

Most of those cases have been diagnosed with tests at private commercial laboratories — 456 of the total positive tests have been at private labs, with 52 positives determined at the Arizona state lab.

Private commercial labs have not been previously required to report the total number of tests they are performing, only the positive cases. That has changed this week, with Gov. Doug Ducey ordering that all tests be reported to state health officials, but no data has been released to the public. A spokesman for the Arizona Department of Health Services said he did not know when the total test numbers would be provided.

Wednesday, 357 of the total positive tests had been at private labs, with 44 positives reported by the state lab.

Tuesday, 285 of the total positive tests had been at private labs, with 41 positives tested by the state lab. On Monday, 194 of the positive tests had been at private labs, with 41 positives tested by the state lab.

Two COVD-19 patients who had been hospitalized in Tucson were released last week, Pima County Health Department officials said Friday. They would not provide details on which of the earlier patients were cleared to leave the hospital.

Twenty additional cases were diagnosed among patients from the Navajo Nation on Wednesday, tribal officials said. There are now 69 known cases on the reservation.

The Hopi reservation, landlocked within the Navajo reservation, also quarantined itself on Monday, as at least three of the additional Navajo cases were reported near the Tuba City area, near two Hopi villages. Hopi officials reported one positive test of a patient at the Hopi Heath Care Center. That person was sent home to self-quarantine, and does not live on the reservation, officials said.

Navajo officials said the majority of the cases on the locked-down reservation, which extends across state lines into New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, involve patients who reported their symptoms to the clinic in Kayenta, Ariz., with others treated in Chinle, Ariz., and Shiprock, N.M. Of the cases on the Native American reservation reported by Wednesday, 43 cases were in Navajo County, 8 in Apache County, 6 in Coconino County, and across the state line, 4 in McKinley County and 7 in San Juan County, and 1 in Cibola County, N.M.

Earlier, a Diné community of Chilchinbeto, Ariz., just south of Kayenta, was quarantined after at least 7 cases were diagnosed there, Navajo officials said. Residents have been instructed to self-quarantine, with anyone with symptoms told to self-isolate. Tribal police have set up checkpoints to discourage travel on the vast, remote reservation.

That quarantine was extended Saturday to cover the entire 22,000-square-mile reservation.

Cases up 25% overnight

The number of known cases grew overnight, up from 401, as more tests are being run after weeks of limited access. There are now 508 total cases reported by Arizona officials.

Wednesday, reported cases increased to 401, up from 326.

The number of diagnosed cases had previously been increasing by roughly 50 percent each day. Monday, there were 235 reported patients. Sunday, there were 152 cases in the state.

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Last Thursday, Arizona officials had tallied 44 cases, with a jump to 79 on Friday and 104 cases by Saturday.

Just 403 people in total have been tested by the Arizona Public Health Laboratory, while private labs coming online have not been reporting the total number of tests to state officials. State officials adjusted the number downward by 54 on Tuesday, because those samples had been deemed inadequate to test, because they were too small, vials were broken, improper holding temperatures, they were determined not to need testing, or other reasons.

Monday, the state lab reported it had tested 356 people since the beginning of the outbreak. Sunday, that figure was 408. Saturday, the state lab had tested 394 in total. Friday, the state lab reported having tested 343 total, up from 331 the day before. Prior to Tuesday, the state lab had tested 221 patients suspected of carrying the virus.

The state lab has now ruled out 347 people with negative tests. The number of negative tests run by commercial labs has not be released.

There are 33 pending tests at the state lab, as of Thursday morning. Sunday, there were 122 tests reported as pending

Back on last Sunday, just 183 people had been tested, with 12 positive cases and 50 pending tests.

'Serious disease'

"COVID-19 is a serious disease that can be fatal in anyone, especially our elderly population and people with underlying health conditions," ADHS Director Cara Christ said earlier "We expect to see more cases of COVID-19 in Arizona, and there could be more deaths. It is imperative that everyone takes precautions to protect you and your family from this disease."

The best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

COVID-19 spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms are thought to appear within two to 14 days after exposure and consist of fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. For people with mild illness, individuals are asked to stay home, drink plenty of fluids and get rest. For people with more severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath, individuals are advised to seek healthcare.

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