Arizona reports nearly 3,000 more COVID-19 cases, 10 deaths
PHOENIX – Arizona reported nearly 3,000 additional known COVID-19 cases on Tuesday as deaths, hospitalizations and testing positivity also rose and the state's top education official said tougher virus prevention steps are needed.
The state reported 2,984 new cases with 10 additional deaths, increasing the state’s totals to 279,896 cases and 6,312 deaths.
The Department of Health Services’COVID-19 dashboard showed the number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 reached 1,624 as of Monday, including 385 patients in intensive care unit beds.
“The numbers are starting to skyrocket," state Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said Monday.
Hoffman, a Democrat, urged a statewide mask mandate and new quarantine and testing requirements for seasonal visitors. She also called for a pause of winter sports, expanded outdoor dining and limits on social gatherings.
The state had approximately 3,500 hospitalizations on a daily basis in mid-July during the peak of last summer's surge but fewer than 500 some days in late September before the latest rise started.
Seven-day rolling averages of new daily cases, daily deaths and testing positivity rose over the past two weeks, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project and Johns Hopkins University analyzed by The Associated Press.
The average jumped from 1,311 on Nov. 2 to 2,459 on Monday while the death average went from 15.3 to 19.7 during the same period as the positivity average went from 11.8% to 16.5%.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
Health officials have said the state's recent surge is tied to factors including businesses and schools reopening and public fatigue with precautions such as mask-wearing.
Many local governments have imposed mask requirements but Hoffman said in media interviews Monday that policies implemented so far by the state don't seem to be halting spread of the coronavirus.
“I think we need to be doing more as a state because I am just absolutely terrified of what the future might hold for Arizona if we continue on this path,” Hoffman told KNXV-TV.
A statement from Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, cited a “strong working relationship" with Hoffman and the Department of Education on COVID-19 matters and said Ducey's administration would “continue working together to prioritize safety and our kids.”
In another development, the Arizona Interscholastic Association announced Monday that its top administrator has recommended that its board delay the start of high school winter sports competition until January.
Winter sports include basketball, soccer and wrestling.