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Briefs | Arizona reports 121 deaths from COVID-19 as outbreak slows

The coronavirus outbreak in Arizona is continuing to slow, with under 1,000 cases reported by the Arizona Department of Health Services on Thursday, Feb. 25. State Health Director Dr. Cara Christ is shown. (File photo by Howard Fischer/For the Miner)

The coronavirus outbreak in Arizona is continuing to slow, with under 1,000 cases reported by the Arizona Department of Health Services on Thursday, Feb. 25. State Health Director Dr. Cara Christ is shown. (File photo by Howard Fischer/For the Miner)

PHOENIX (AP) – Arizona on Thursday reported 121 deaths from COVID-19 but only 939 additional confirmed cases amid indicators of continued slowing of the coronavirus outbreak.

The 939 additional cases marked the first day since Nov. 30 that the state Department of Health Services reported fewer than 1,000 additional confirmed cases.

The latest figures increased Arizona’s pandemic totals to 812,907 cases and 15,814 deaths.

The state’s coronavirus dashboard indicated COVID-19-related hospitalizations continued to drop and data from The COVID Tracking Project showed that seven-day rolling averages of daily new cases and daily deaths declined from two weeks ago.

According to the state’s dashboard, 1,385 COVD-19 patients occupied inpatient beds on Wednesday, down from the pandemic high of 5,082 on Jan. 11.

The rolling average of daily new cases in Arizona dropped from 3,123.7 on Feb. 10 to 1,559 on Wednesday while the rolling average of daily deaths dropped from 126.6 to 105.5 during the same period.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Arizona bill waives rabies vaccine mandate for some dogs

PHOENIX (AP) – The Arizona Senate has voted to allow dog owners to demonstrate their pet has immunity to rabies instead of giving a booster vaccine for the deadly disease. The measure was given preliminary approval on Wednesday but still needs a final Senate vote.

Republican Sen. Nancy Barto of Phoenix says she introduced the bill at the request of constituents who say some animals have adverse reactions to vaccines.

The measure would allow them to meet rabies vaccine mandates by performing a titer test showing the pet has antibodies. Critics say the measure is dangerous and could lead to increased cases of rabies.

Democratic Sen. Christine Marsh of Phoenix said veterinarians warned that a test can't tell if immunity will last for the entire year for which the dog would be exempt from a rabies booster.

Adult care home operator accused of fatally beating resident

PHOENIX (AP) – The owner of a Phoenix adult care home has been arrested in the beating death of a resident who police said was mentally ill and incapacitated due to a brain injury from an automobile accident.

Valera Catuna, 52, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of second-degree murder in the Oct. 21, 2020, death of William Griswold, 53, police said.

A police probable-cause statement released Thursday said investigators determined that Catuna repeatedly struck Griswold during an argument.

The death was initially reported by Catuna’s spouse to be from natural causes but an autopsy found multiple chest and abdominal injuries, including numerous broken ribs, a torn spleen and internal bleeding, the statement said.

Police began investigating after being contacted by a case manager of another resident who had witnessed the alleged assault, the statement said.

State agencies were notified of Catuna’s arrest and responded to ensure that remaining residents of the care home were safe and receiving proper care, police said.

Catuna remained jailed Thursday. Online court records didn’t list a defense attorney who might comment on his behalf about the allegations.

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