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Arizona sees big jump in COVID-19 cases, most since mid-July

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 3,434 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a massive jump from recent days and the highest single-day total since mid-July. Wednesday, the state health department reported another 2,030 infections.

New COVID infections have been on the rise for weeks as Arizona and the rest of the United States grapples with a resurgence of the novel coronavirus. Daily numbers for new cases have mostly ranged from 1,000 to 2,000 over the past two weeks, reaching as high as 2,621 on Saturday. But this is the first time in months that number has eclipsed 3,000.

Tuesday's total was the highest daily number since July 14, when ADHS reported 3,488 new infections.

ADHS also reported 28 new deaths from COVID on Tuesday, and another 36 new deaths on Wednesday morning.

Other coronavirus indicators are also worsening. As of Tuesday, ADHS reported 1,360 total COVID hospitalizations, the highest number since Aug. 15. That number has risen consistently since reaching its nadir of 468 on Sept. 27.

Arizona's COVID outbreak peaked over the summer, reaching records of 5,450 cases on June 29 and 3,517 total hospitalizations on July 13. At the time, Arizona was facing one of the worst outbreaks in the country. Infections, hospitalizations and other key indicators began dropping after Gov. Doug Ducey lifted his ban on cities and counties imposing mask mandates.

The U.S. has been on a dramatic upswing in cases that began in mid-September and hit record highs in early November, including six consecutive days of more than 100,000 cases reported. In the past week, new daily reported cases rose more than 31% nationwide.

At the same time, many localities — including in Arizona — have begun rolling back restrictions on business activity like bars and restaurants and ending mask mandates.

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However, President-elect Joe Biden has said he favors a nationwide mask mandate aimed at curbing transmission of the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. On Monday, Biden's transition team announced its COVD-19 task force members.

"Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts," Biden said in a statement Monday. "The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations."

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.


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