A Chandler assisted living facility has now seen 16 residents die from COVID-19, while four death row inmates in Florence have tested positive.
Arizona surpassed 6,000 coronavirus cases Friday, while the number of deaths reached 266.
The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 276 new cases, bringing the state’s total to 6,045. Seventeen new deaths were also reported.
Cases continued to rise on the Navajo Nation as well. Health officials reported 78 new cases and three new deaths Thursday, bringing the totals to 1,360 cases and 52 deaths. Arizona’s Navajo County has 350 of those cases.
Although there has been a surge in Arizona deaths this week, health officials say that’s not necessarily a sign that things are getting worse. The deaths are likely a result of a boost in hospitalizations a few weeks ago, as it usually takes several weeks for patients with the disease to die.
“We were anticipating an unfortunate rise in deaths when we saw the rise in hospitalizations,” Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, Maricopa County’s health director, told The Associated Press. “And we hope that as the hospitalizations leveled off, we expect to see the deaths level off.”
Cases Clustering in Some Places
The coronavirus death toll at a Chandler assisted living facility has also increased. While Pennington Gardens reported 13 of its residents had died from the virus earlier this week, ABC 15 said Thursday that three more residents have died.
The TV station also reported 29 additional residents and 10 staff members have tested positive for coronavirus.
According to ADHS, a total of 56 assisted living facilities and 37 long-term care facilities across the state have reported having positive cases.
Other places seeing clusters of cases are jails. According to ADHS, 10 prisons/jails/detention centers have reported cases in the state. Of those facilities is the Florence prison complex, where four death row inmates have tested positive for the virus.
The first death row inmate who tested positive has accused the prison of keeping him and other inmates in dirty, cockroach-infested spaces with unclean water.
“Prisoners’ lives still matter,” Patrick Bearup told The Associated Press. “There are a lot of men in here in my community — I get what we are in here for. I get there’s crime and punishment, but this is not the punishment that was assigned to them.”
Testing to Ramp Up
ADHS announced Thursday it is expanding testing in the state now that private labs have been able to obtain more medical equipment and test kits.
Dr. Cara Christ, the agency’s director, said anyone who believes they have been exposed to the virus and possibly infected will now qualify for a test. Previously, only people who met certain criteria, which included being hospitalized with symptoms or having recently traveled to areas with outbreaks, could be tested.
The health department reported Friday that 60,714 tests have been administered so far in the state, with a 9% positive rate. In a one-day span, 2,017 tests were performed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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