Briefs | Arizona sees 566 new virus cases, very low hospital counts
PHOENIX - Arizona hospitals continue to get a break from the influx of coronavirus cases that nearly overwhelmed their ability to care for patients early in the summer, but new case counts are again edging up.
Virus counts released Thursday by the state Department of Health Services show 566 new confirmed cases across the state, bringing the total since the pandemic hit early this year to 215,852. The state announced 34 new deaths, bringing that total to 5,559.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Arizona has risen over the past two weeks from 525 new confirmed cases per day on Sept. 9 to 768 new confirmed cases per day on Sept. 23, according to data collected by The COVID Tracking Project. That upward tick may in part be due to the state health department now including “probable” results from less-accurate antigen testing.
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.
Hospital use is way down from the mid-July peak that saw more than 3,500 people being treated. The state reported just 565 people hospitalized for the virus as of Wednesday, with just 122 in intensive care and only 64 needing ventilators to help them breathe.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Maricopa County prosecutor wants all police to wear cameras
PHOENIX - The top prosecutor in Maricopa County wants lawmakers to require body-worn cameras for all Arizona police officers in the field.
County Attorney Allister Adel urged six lawmakers in letters on Wednesday to take action in the next legislative session after the prosecutor declined two days earlier to bring criminal charges against state Trooper George Cervantes in the May 25 shooting death of Dion Johnson, who is Black.
The trooper was not wearing a body camera because Arizona Department of Public Safety officers have not been equipped with them.
“Anytime that we have more evidence in a case is helpful,” Adel told The Arizona Republic, calling the lack of bodycams at some departments a “matter of public concern.”
The death of Johnson during a roadside struggle prompted protests against police violence in Phoenix. Johnson’s mother, Erma Johnson, has said the justice system failed her son.
Early this year, Gov. Doug Ducey called for equipping every state trooper with a camera. Ducey offered the idea as protection for officers and proposed dedicating $5 million to buy about 1,200 cameras and pay for staff to manage the hours of footage.
The Legislature dropped the idea as it hurried to pass a simpler budget amid the onset of the pandemic and the accompanying fiscal uncertainty.
The county attorney’s decision not to charge Cervantes has been controversial. With no body-camera video to fully detail what happened, questions remain about the fatal shooting. Adel said she couldn’t say if a body camera would have made a difference in the events surrounding Johnson’s death. The decision against filing charges was based on evidence and facts available at the time, she said.
Caregiver of elderly Arizona man accused of theft, forgery
DEWEY - A caregiver has been arrested on suspicion of fraud and other charges, according to Yavapai County Sheriff’s officials.
They said 51-year-old Christine Garthright was taken into custody Wednesday at the Dewey home of the 89-year-old male victim.
Sheriff’s officials say Garthright is being held on a $50,000 bond at the Camp Verde jail and is facing charges of theft, computer tampering, forgery and trespassing.
The daughter of the victim notified sheriff’s officials that Garthright allegedly was exploiting her dad for money over a four-year period.
She reviewed her father’s bank account activities and found that between June 2018 and May 2020, Garthright allegedly wrote 34 unauthorized checks totaling more than $11,000.
Garthright also was accused of using the victim’s ATM card without permission to withdraw cash and allegedly stole several thousands of dollars from his safe.
It was unclear Wednesday if Garthright has a lawyer yet who can speak on her behalf.