ICU bed use, ER visits hit new highs for Arizona COVID-19 cases
Arizona's daily coronavirus numbers climbed again Monday, continuing more than two weeks of high numbers of reported cases, deaths and hospitalizations.
The state reported 1,014 new cases Monday. More than 1,000 new cases have been reported on 10 of the past 14 days, including on the past six days.
ICU beds for patients with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 hit its highest number on Sunday, with 464 patients in the ICU, surpassing Saturday's 452 patients.
Emergency department visits for patients with suspected and confirmed positive COVID-19 also reached its highest level on Sunday, with 931 patients seen for COVID-19 in emergency rooms.
In a briefing last week, Gov. Doug Ducey focused on hospital capacity — saying that although positive COVID-19 cases have been increasing, Arizona's hospitals are prepared to handle more patients.
Ducey said concern about hospitals was "misinformation" and that Arizona hospitals are doing fine.
Arizona's sharp uptick during the past two to three weeks, particularly the spikes in positive cases, has raised questions and alarm locally and nationally about whether the state has done enough to slow the spread and what other precautions may be necessary.
Ducey's stay-at-home order expired just over a month ago.
Here's what you need to know about Monday's new numbers.
Reported cases: 36,705 known cases
- Cases increased by 1,014, or 2.8%, from Sunday's 35,691 identified cases.
- 19,372 in Maricopa, 3,944 in Pima, 3,265 in Yuma, 2,636 in Navajo, 1,975 in Apache, 1,568 in Pinal, 1,373 in Coconino, 988 in Santa Cruz, 618 in Mohave, 374 in Yavapai, 222 in La Paz, 221 in Cochise, 87 in Gila, 50 in Graham and 12 in Greenlee, according to state numbers.
- The Navajo Nation reported 6,611 cases and 311 confirmed deaths as of Sunday. The Navajo Nation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
- The Arizona Department of Corrections said 252 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Friday. 2,125 inmates have been tested out of a population of 40,632.
- While race/ethnicity is unknown for 38% of cases, 26% of cases are Hispanic or Latino, 18% of cases are white, 11% are Native American and 3% are Black.
- Laboratories have completed 344,929 diagnostic tests for COVID-19, 8.5% of which have come back positive.
Reported deaths: 1,194 known deaths
- Deaths increased by eight from Sunday's 1,186 known deaths.
- 557 in Maricopa, 223 in Pima, 88 in Coconino, 86 in Navajo, 67 in Mohave, 56 in Apache, 44 in Pinal, 42 in Yuma, 12 in Santa Cruz, seven in Yavapai, four in Cochise, three in Gila and fewer than three in La Paz, Graham and Greenlee.
- People aged 65 and older made up 903 of the 1,194 deaths, or 76%.
- While race/ethnicity is unknown for 12% of deaths, 45% of deaths were white, 20% were Hispanic or Latino, 18% were Native American and 3% were Black.
Hospitalizations still increasing
- Inpatients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 tallied 1,449 as of Sunday, trailing only Saturday's 1,457 inpatients. This was the 14th consecutive day that hospitalizations statewide have eclipsed 1,000, the highest they’ve been since the state began reporting the data on April 8.
- Ventilator use for suspected and confirmed positive COVID-19 patients was at 307 on Sunday, continuing a trend of high ventilator numbers, which were especially high last week. Saturday's 317 patients on ventilators was the highest number since data on ventilator use became public on April 8.
- ICU bed use for suspected and confirmed positive COVID-19 patients hit a record high 464 on Sunday, surpassing Saturday's 452. Sunday was the 20th consecutive day that the number has been higher than 370 and the seventh consecutive day it’s passed 400.
- Emergency department visits for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 hit its highest number so far, with 931 patients seen Sunday. Numbers surpassed 800 on June 5 and have been above every day since, with a high of 915 visits last Thursday. During April and May, emergency department daily visits for COVID-19 were typically in the 400s and 500s, rising into the 600s in the last few days of May.
- The number of patients with suspected or confirmed positive COVID-19 discharged from hospitals has hovered between 95 and 130 individuals each day for the past two weeks. The highest day for COVID-19 patient discharge was April 17, with 242 patients discharged.
What's the conversation about these trends?
The state isn't talking about possible new mitigation strategies or changes. Ducey and Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, have encouraged a redoubling of personal precautions such as physical distancing and mask-wearing when that's not possible. They repeatedly say Arizona has taken adequate precautions statewide and is prepared.
Although there is capacity, hospital systems worry about staffing and other challenges.Hospital leaders say while there are plans in place for a surge of COVID-19 patients, that would put great pressure on staffing, test supplies and other hospital services. Hospital leaders are also concerned about potentially having to stop elective surgeries again given the negative effects on patient health.
Sticking out on the map. In some projections, Arizona is appearing among the worst places nationwide for COVID-19 spread. Youyang Gu, a data scientist behind covid19-projections.com, created a map of how cases are changing across states, taking into account both population and the rate of increase.
Arizona appears dark orange, earning the fourth-worst score among all states for COVID-19 case changes, behind South Carolina, Alabama and Florida.
One model shifted up its death estimates. A model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington has increased its death projections for Arizona to 4,762 deaths by Oct. 1.
Key figures to watch
The percentage of positive tests is increasing. This is the opposite direction from White House reopening criteria. The percentage of positive tests out of all tests per week increased to 14% last week, from 6% a month ago to 9% three weeks ago to 12% two weeks ago. When the state decided to reopen in mid-May, that number had been trending down, but it has been increasing ever since.
Ducey said several times in his briefing last week that the increase in cases and percent of positive tests correlated with the increase in testing. But during the past two weeks, cases increased by 82% and tests increased by just 51%.
There is still some hospital capacity. Ducey emphasized the state has enough hospital capacity, pointing to current available space in hospitals as well as additional surge methods and more beds that can be brought online if necessary. As of Sunday, 83% of current inpatient beds and 82% of ICU beds were in use for COVID-19 and other patients.
Republic reporter Stephanie Innes contributed to this article.
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