Arizona stories 742 new coronavirus instances, three extra deaths –


Dr. Tom Dean poses at his clinic in Wessington Springs on Friday. October 16, 2020. Dean is one of three doctors in the county to have one of the highest rates of coronavirus cases per person in the country. He writes a column in the local newspaper, True Dakotan, urging people to take precautions against the virus. (AP Photo / Stephen Groves)

This is a regularly updated story with the latest information, news, and updates about the coronavirus and its impact in Arizona and beyond for Saturday, October 17th.

PHOENIX – Arizona health officials reported 742 new coronavirus cases and three more deaths on Sunday morning.

According to the Arizona Department of Health, the state's total documented number was 231,149 COVID-19 infections and 5,827 deaths.

Key Arizona pandemic severity metrics have dropped dramatically since the summer peaks, but cases and hospitalizations have seen an upward trend recently.

The number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 hospital inpatients in Arizona fell to 714 on Sunday, after hitting a monthly high of 757 on Saturday.

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care beds also rose slightly to 176; It was 174 the day before, the highest since September 11th.

Hospital stays are well below the pandemic highs of 3,517 inpatients and 970 intensive care patients, both of which were recorded on July 13.

Arizona weekly percent positivity for COVID-19 diagnostic tests was 5% for that week as of Sunday's update, with 55,102 tests recorded.

The positivity rate, an indicator of how the virus has spread in the community, has been 4% for the past six weeks. At the end of June it was still 20%.

The weekly rates are based on when the samples are taken, not when they are reported. Therefore, the percentage of the past few weeks may fluctuate when the labs are busy testing and the results are documented by the state.

The Arizona Department of Health daily reports display case, death, and testing dates after the state receives and confirms statistics that may date back several days or more. They do not represent actual activity over the past 24 hours.

However, the hospital data published every morning is reported by the hospitals the evening before.

The seven-day moving average for the state Department of Health's newly reported cases was 775.57 as of Saturday, according to The Associated Press.

However, the seven-day average of newly reported deaths tends to be lower, though it rose to 9.29 by Saturday.

The 7-day averages are well below their highs of 3,844 cases on July 6 and 94 deaths on July 30.

As cases skyrocketed in June, local governments in many parts of Arizona – including all of Maricopa County – were enforcing face mask requirements, and Governor Doug Ducey issued statewide orders to shut down certain businesses and limit restaurant occupancy.

The spread of COVID-19 slowed after these steps were taken. All Arizona counties have since met the benchmarks set by the Health Department that allow closed businesses to reopen under capacity constraints and other regulations.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has no effects on some people and is seriously debilitating or fatal to others. Infected people with no symptoms – which include a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing – can spread the virus.

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