Arizona breaks weekly record for new COVID cases

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which causes COVID-19. Public domain image.

Arizona has set a new record for the number of cases of COVID-19 reported in a seven-day period, with over 25,000 cases being reported in the past week. 

The previous high-water mark was July 5-11, when 24,364 cases were reported, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The past seven days has seen a total of 25,412 cases reported in the state. 

The Arizona Department of Health Services on Tuesday reported 4,544 new cases of COVID and 51 deaths, a number last seen during the same week the previous record was set when Arizona’s summer spike ranked among the worst outbreaks in the country. 

Tuesday’s news comes on the heels of reports that hospitals are reaching capacity with their intensive care units.

As of Nov. 23, data provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services showed that only 11% of the state’s intensive care unit beds were readily available. That is approximately 192 beds for COVID and non-COVID patients alike. 

The lowest this number has dropped during the pandemic was 9% on July 7, when over 50% of ICU beds were being used by COVID patients. Currently, 27% are in use by COVID patients, a 17% increase from last week and a 50% increase from two weeks ago. 

Over the last week, Arizona has averaged 47.4 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. 

ADHS said that though the availability of ICU beds has decreased over the past few weeks, Arizona hospitals still have adequate capacity.

“Where there are capacity issues, the Arizona Surge Line has been able to arrange alternate facilities for patients needing ICU care and help hospitals optimize bed usage,” ADHS spokesman Steve Elliot said in a press release, referring to a system of coordination between hospitals that allows the to transfer patients to free up bed space.

While ICUs are filling up and cases are on the rise, ADHS data also shows that ventilator use and other procedures associated with COVID are on increasing as well. There has been a 6% decrease in the number of ventilators available since the start of the month.

Intubations, a procedure in which a tube is inserted into the mouth and throat to allow breathing, had one of its highest single day numbers since the pandemic began. On Nov. 22, 114 intubations were performed, the third highest single day on record. 

As of Tuesday, Arizona has experienced more than 306,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 6,500 deaths since the pandemic began.

Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.