How is Arizona Faring Two Weeks After Businesses Reopened? Answer: Not So Great.

man self-administering coronavirus nasal swab test

By Jessica Swarner

June 1, 2020

“Let’s cross our fingers that the AZ COVID-19 trends over the last few days are an anomaly.”

The number of coronavirus cases in Arizona began to trend upward last week, about two weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey allowed the state’s stay-at-home order to expire.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported record numbers over the weekend, first breaking the record of daily cases with 702 on Friday and then again with 790 on Saturday. 

While these numbers are just the number of cases reported that day, and not necessarily the actual number of people diagnosed in one day, ADHS data still shows no slowdown. 

Just under 550 positive samples were collected on May 26, the second-highest number in one day. On May 15, the day the stay-a-home order expired, 566 positive samples were collected. 

Arizonans can expect even more cases will be added as the week progresses, as ADHS notes that illnesses in the last four to seven days may not yet be reported. 

RELATED: Santa Cruz County Has Second-Highest Positive COVID-19 Test Rate in Arizona

The percentage of positive diagnostic tests has also been steadily increasing. While the percentage began dropping in mid-April, going from 9% to 5% by the beginning of May, it’s now back up to 8%. 

Hospitalizations have also been up. While the number of people in the hospital for COVID-19 hovered below 900 in recent weeks, the weekend saw record-high numbers. ADHS reported 975 hospitalizations Friday, 973 on Saturday, and 968 on Sunday. 

The number of emergency room visits for positive or suspected COVID-19 patients also recently spiked, hitting its highest number Thursday at 667. Friday and Saturday both saw numbers in the 600s while going back down to 540 Sunday. 

ADHS has cautioned that “any large decreases or increases” could be a result of differences in how healthcare providers are reporting their numbers to the state. 

“Let’s cross our fingers that the AZ #covid19 trends over the last few days are an anomaly,” Will Humble, the state’s former health department director, said on Twitter

On Monday, the agency reported 187 new cases, bringing the state’s total to 20,123. The number of deaths hit 917 as the agency reported an increase of 11. 

While businesses that were allowed to reopen in mid-May are supposed to be following social distancing and other health guidelines, which include spacing people out at least six feet apart, multiple businesses in the Phoenix area have seen crowds of people congregating. 

RELATED: Ducey Encourages People to Go Out as State Reports 700 New COVID-19 Cases in One Day

At a press briefing last week, Ducey chose not to condemn the actions of people flouting the guidelines, instead thanking other Arizonans who are complying. 

The governor has also cited misleading metrics while saying the state is on the right path and encouraging reopening – he touted a declining positive percentage of tests as a good sign, but was including serology, or antibody, tests in that number. 

Despite the lack of a coronavirus slowdown, Ducey announced Thursday that youth sports and summer camps could resume, while teachers and students could expect to return to classrooms in the fall.

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  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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