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15 deaths, 773 Arizonans reported with CV-19; 5th death in Pima County

Total tests still unreported; Outbreak grows on Navajo Nation

More than 770 Arizonans have recorded positive tests for COVID-19. 15 have died, including 5 Pima County residents, where 120 have confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The outbreak has grown on the Navajo Nation, with an additional 21 cases bringing the total to 92. 2 reservation residents have died.

The latest death of a Pima County resident was announced Saturday. "To protect the privacy of the deceased and his family," officials would only disclose that the most recent fatal confirmed case here was a man who was "a hospice patient between the age of 18 and 40."

Another 108 cases were added to the total count of reported diagnosed patients with CV-19 in the state, officials said Saturday morning.

Friday, 665 Arizona cases had been reported, with 102 in Pima County.

Thursday, just more than 500 Arizona cases had been reported, with 75 in Pima County.

15 people have died in the state from COVID-19, including 5 in Pima County — the latest of those deaths was announced Saturday morning. 5 people have died in Maricopa County. Officials have said the virus has reached "widespread transmission" across the state.

"We need to act like every contact we have is a source of infection," county Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia told the Pima County Board of Supervisors on Thursday, telling everyone to reduce their interactions outside their homes as much as possible.

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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, Thursday and Friday mornings were about 25 percent larger than the previous day's total.

Saturday's reported total was about 20 percent larger, but officials have repeatedly said that there are limits and shortages in testing, and that many presumed positive cases are being instructed to self-isolate and are not being included in the reported count of confirmed cases.

The total number of tests being run on Arizona patients is still not known to the press or public. Negative results from commercial labs have not been reported.

Saturday morning, state officials reported that 773 patients in Arizona had tested positive for the disease. Friday morning, state officials reported that 665 patients in Arizona had tested positive. Thursday morning, 508 cases were reported here. Wednesday morning, 401 Arizona residents were reported as positive. Tuesday, there were 326 reported cases, with 235 on Monday. Last 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 have been younger than 60.

92 recorded positive patients live on the Navajo Nation, an increase of 21 yesterday. Those positive reported cases are now being included in the daily tallies released by the Arizona Department of Health Services, officials have said, but there is an apparent lag in the data being updated. The number of cases reported by the state in Navajo and Apache counties often lags the reports from the tribe, as it did on Saturday.

That means the number of total tested and confirmed cases in Arizona being reported by state authorities is not always the most recent actual total.

The entire Navajo 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 14 of Arizona's 15 counties. The largest group of cases has been reported in Maricopa County: 454 patients there have been diagnosed.

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"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, on Thursday. "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."

120 Pima County residents have now been diagnosed.

Of those reported by Saturday, 57 are men and 63 women, with 27 older than 65. 46 are ages 41-65, with 41 adults between the ages of 18 and 40. 1 is younger than 18.

Officials said they didn't know the ages of five of the Pima cases.

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

In Maricopa County, with 452 reports (an increase from 399 on Friday), 251 are men and 201 are women. 2 patients are younger than 18, with 158 ages 18-39, 146 reported patients 40-59 years old, and 146 who are 60 or older.

Of those, 96 of the reported cases had been hospitalized, with 34 in ICU, Maricopa officials said. Of those hospitalized, 58 (60 percent) were 60 or older, while 20 (59 percent) of those in ICU were 60 or older. 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.

2 of the Maricopa residents who died were aged 40-59, while 3 of the dead were 60 or older.

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.

Most of those cases have been diagnosed with tests at private commercial laboratories — 719 of the total positive tests have been at private labs, with 54 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.

Thursday, 456 of the total positive tests had been at private labs, with 52 positives reported by the state lab.

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

21 additional cases were diagnosed among patients from the Navajo Nation on Friday, with another two added on Thursday, tribal officials said. There are now 92 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.

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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 Friday, 49 cases were in Navajo County, 18 in Apache County, 6 in Coconino County, and across the state line, 5 in McKinley County and 11 in San Juan County, and 1 in Cibola County, N.M. Another case was reported in San Juan County, Utah.

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 last Saturday to cover the entire 22,000-square-mile reservation.

Cases up 20% overnight

The number of known cases grew overnight, up from 665, as more tests are being run even though they are still limited. There are now 773 total cases reported by Arizona officials.

Friday, reported cases grew from 508 to 665.

Thursday, reported cases grew from 401 to 508.

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.

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

Just 432 people in total have been tested by the Arizona Public Health Laboratory, up from 420 on Thursday, 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.

On Monday, the state lab reported it had tested 356 people since the beginning of the outbreak.

The state lab has now ruled out 370 people with negative tests. The number of negative tests run by commercial labs has not be released.

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There are 21 tests at the state lab, as of Saturday morning.

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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