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Arizona reported 738 new COVID-19 cases and 17 new known deaths on Friday as hospitalizations for the disease increased slightly but remained relatively stable.

Identified cases rose to 229,486 and known deaths were at 5,806, according to the daily report from the Arizona Department of Health Services. 

The number of patients hospitalized statewide for known or suspected COVID-19 cases was at 747 on Thursday, up from previous days and the highest since Sept. 1. At the peak of Arizona’s surge in July, the number of hospitalized patients suspected or confirmed to have the virus exceeded 3,000.

The number of patients with suspected or known COVID-19 in intensive care units across Arizona was at 167 on Thursday, down from 173 on Wednesday, which was the most since Sept. 11. The level is far below what it was in July, when ICU beds in use for COVID-19 reached 970.

The number of Arizonans with confirmed and suspected COVID-19 on ventilators was at 79 on Thursday, up from 75 on Wednesday, which was a drop from 85 on Tuesday. On Monday, ventilators in use reached 88, the highest level since Sept. 11. In mid-July, as many as 687 patients across the state with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 were on ventilators. 

Friday’s dashboard shows 85% of inpatient beds and 83% of ICU beds in use, which includes people being treated for COVID-19 and other patients. COVID-19 patients were using 9% of all inpatient beds and 10% of ICU beds. Overall, 26% of ventilators were in use.

The number of weekly tests conducted dropped significantly in July and into August, after which it began to increase somewhat through September and into October.

Of known test results from the past six weeks, 4% have come back positive, according to the state, which has a unique way of calculating percent positivity.

Johns Hopkins University calculates Arizona’s seven-day moving average of percent positives at 7.6% and shows it had reached a relative plateau and may now be trending slightly upward.

A positivity rate of 5% is considered a good benchmark that the spread of the disease is under control.

ADHS has begun including probable cases as anyone with a positive antigen test, another type of test to determine current infection. Antigen tests (not related to antibody tests) are a newer type of COVID-19 diagnostic test that use a nasal swab or another fluid sample to test for current infection. Results are typically produced within 15 minutes. 

A positive antigen test result is considered very accurate, but there’s an increased chance of false-negative results, the Mayo Clinic says. Depending on the situation, Mayo Clinic officials say a doctor may recommend a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test to confirm a negative antigen test result.

Here’s what you need to know about Friday’s new numbers:

Reported cases in Arizona: 229,486

Cases increased by 738, or 0.32%, from Thursday’s 228,748 identified cases since the outbreak began.

Cases by county: 148,612 in Maricopa, 26,769 in Pima, 13,123 in Yuma, 11,242 in Pinal, 6,136 in Navajo, 4,643 in Coconino, 4,156 in Mohave, 3,751 in Apache, 2,936 in Santa Cruz, 2,753 in Yavapai, 2,015 in Cochise, 1,694 in Gila, 1,007 in Graham, 581 in La Paz and 68 in Greenlee, according to state numbers.

The rate of cases per 100,000 people is highest in Yuma County, followed by Santa Cruz, Navajo and Apache counties. The rate in Yuma County is 5,707 cases per 100,000 people. By comparison, the U.S. average rate is 2,386 cases per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Navajo Nation reported 10,819 cases and 571 confirmed deaths as of Thursday. The Navajo Nation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The Arizona Department of Corrections said 2,614 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday, including 989 in Tucson; 40,460 inmates statewide have been tested. A total of 717 prison staff members have self-reported testing positive, the state corrections department said. Seventeen incarcerated people in Arizona have been confirmed to have died of COVID-19, with 11 additional deaths under investigation. 

While race/ethnicity is unknown for 30% of cases statewide, 31% of cases are Hispanic or Latino, 26% are white, 6% are Native American, 3% are Black and 1% are Asian/Pacific Islander.

Laboratories have completed 1,609,380 diagnostic tests for COVID-19, 10.5% of which have come back positive. That number now includes both PCR and antigen testing. The percentage of positive tests had increased since mid-May but began decreasing in July and for the past six weeks has been at 4%. The state numbers leave out data from labs that do not report electronically.

Arizona, as of Thursday, had one of the highest overall rates of COVID-19 infection in the country — 10th behind North Dakota, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, South Dakota, Tennessee, Iowa and Georgia, according to the CDC. Arizona’s infection rate is 3,174 cases per 100,000 people, the CDC says. The national average is 2,386 cases per 100,000 people, though the rates in states hard-hit early on in the pandemic may be an undercount due to a lack of available testing in March and April.

Reported deaths: 5,806 known deaths

On Friday, 17 new known deaths were reported.

County deaths: 3,500 in Maricopa, 633 in Pima, 351 in Yuma, 236 in Navajo, 229 in Mohave, 213 in Pinal, 167 in Apache, 147 in Coconino, 86 in Yavapai, 73 in Cochise, 64 in Santa Cruz, 63 in Gila, 26 in Graham, 16 in La Paz and fewer than three in Greenlee.

People aged 65 and older made up 4,128 of the 5,806 deaths, or 71%.

While race/ethnicity is unknown for 11% of deaths, 42% of those who died were white, 30% were Hispanic or Latino, 11% were Native American, 3% were Black and 1% were Asian/Pacific Islander, the state data show.

The global death toll on Friday was 1,099,727 and the U.S. had the highest death count of any country in the world, at 217,798, according to Johns Hopkins University. Arizona’s death total of 5,806 deaths represents 2.7% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. as of Friday.

The COVID-19 death rate in Arizona was 80 per 100,000 people as of Thursday, according to the CDC, putting it 10th in the country in a state ranking that separates New York City and New York state. The U.S. average is 65 deaths per 100,000 people, the CDC says.

Behind New York City, at 284 deaths per 100,000 people, the CDC placed the highest death rates ahead of Arizona as New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Louisiana, Rhode Island, Mississippi, the District of Columbia and New York state.

Reach the reporter at [email protected] or at 602-444-4282. Follow her on Twitter @alisteinbach.

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