Arizona COVID-19 numbers gradually improving, percent of positives and hospitalizations down during July

Coronavirus+%28COVID-19%29+-+CG+Illustration.

Yuri Samoilov (Flickr)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - CG Illustration.

Ivana Venema-Nunez, Reporter

Earlier this month, Arizona’s COVID-19 cases had reached record high numbers.  But while hospitals remain under stress, they have seen a flattening in the usage of ICU beds and ventilators on Tuesday.

According to an AZ Central article published on Wednesday, hospitals have seen a gradual decline.

However, Arizona reported more than 2,300 new COVID-19 cases and 46 new known deaths on Wednesday.

According to the article, it should be kept in mind that test results turnaround is slow, so the additional deaths reported by the Arizona Department of Health Services had likely occurred days or weeks before. 

More time is needed for public health experts to conclude if overall numbers are declining and to see how testing fluctuations and backlogs in test results may be influencing case counts.

Sonora Quest Laboratories, who process the majority of the state’s tests, is backlogged and reporting results in nine to 12 days, but can process priority samples from hospitals within 24 hours, according to a spokesperson.

According to Arizona health department data, the percentage of positive tests returned last week and this week was 12%, down from 20% five weeks ago and 21% four weeks ago.  The percentage of positive tests is still over twice as high as the rate before reopening the state, when it was at 5%.

Hospitals remain stressed.

Eeven though the number of recovered COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals on Wednesday was 368, hospitalizations for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases had surpassed 3,000 daily for most of July, until last week, according to the article. Inpatient hospitalizations seem to be gradually decreasing and July has seen relatively high discharge numbers. 

ICU bed use for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients was at 800 beds on Tuesday, down from Monday’s 814 ICU beds in use. 

Ventilator use for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients was reported at 561 on Tuesday, also gradually decreasing from July 16 when a record high of 687 ventilators were being used.

According to the article, during April and May, daily emergency room visits for COVID-19 were typically in the 400s and 500s, rising into the 600s in the last few days of May. Visits by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients was 1,225 on Tuesday, slightly more than Monday’s 1,158 visits.