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Arizona reported 683 new COVID-19 cases and three new known deaths Friday, as hospital metrics for the disease remain relatively stable from the day prior.

Identified cases rose to 224,084 and known deaths are at 5,746, according to the daily report from the Arizona Department of Health Services. 

The number of patients hospitalized statewide for known or suspected COVID-19 was at 706 on Thursday, down from 728 on Wednesday, which was the most inpatients since Sept. 3. Inpatient numbers look to be plateauing and possibly increasing, but more time is needed to determine a trend. At the peak of Arizona’s surge in July, the number of hospitalized patients suspected or confirmed to have the virus exceeded 3,000.

The number of patients with suspected or known COVID-19 in intensive care units across Arizona was at 155 Thursday. The number has hovered between 114 and 156 since Sept. 14. The level is far below what it was in July, when ICU beds in use for COVID-19 reached 970.

The number of Arizonans with confirmed and suspected COVID-19 on ventilators was at 70 on Thursday. The metric has hovered around that level for three weeks, ranging between 47 and 72 ventilators in use. In mid-July, as many as 687 patients across the state with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 were on ventilators. 

ADHS has begun including probable cases as anyone with a positive antigen test, another type of test to determine current infection. Antigen tests (not related to antibody tests) are a newer type of COVID-19 diagnostic test that use a nasal swab or another fluid sample to test for current infection. Results are typically produced within 15 minutes. 

A positive antigen test result is considered very accurate, but there’s an increased chance of false-negative results, the Mayo Clinic says. Depending on the situation, Mayo Clinic officials say a doctor may recommend a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test to confirm a negative antigen test result. 

Friday’s dashboard shows 86% of inpatient beds and 79% of ICU beds in use, which includes people being treated for COVID-19 and other patients. COVID-19 patients were using 8% of all inpatient beds and 9% of ICU beds. Overall, 24% of ventilators were in use.

The number of weekly tests conducted dropped significantly in July and into August, after which it has remained flatter with some fluctuation.

Of known test results from the past five weeks, 4% have come back positive, according to the state, which has a unique way of calculating percent positivity.

Johns Hopkins University calculates Arizona’s seven-day moving average of percent positives at 7% and shows it has reached a relative plateau.

A positivity rate of 5% is considered a good benchmark that the spread of the disease is under control.

Here’s what you need to know about Friday’s new numbers:

Reported cases in Arizona: 224,084

Cases increased by 683, or 0.31%, from Thursday’s 223,401 identified cases since the outbreak began.

Cases by county: 145,298 in Maricopa, 26,287 in Pima, 12,941 in Yuma, 10,973 in Pinal, 5,874 in Navajo, 4,401 in Coconino, 4,078 in Mohave, 3,654 in Apache, 2,900 in Santa Cruz, 2,682 in Yavapai, 1,944 in Cochise, 1,500 in Gila, 927 in Graham, 563 in La Paz and 62 in Greenlee, according to state numbers.

The rate of cases per 100,000 people is highest in Yuma County, followed by Santa Cruz, Navajo and Apache counties. The rate in Yuma County is 5,628 cases per 100,000 people. By comparison, the U.S. average rate is 2,275 cases per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Navajo Nation reported 10,582 cases and 563 confirmed deaths as of Thursday. The Navajo Nation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The Arizona Department of Corrections said 2,599 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday, including 985 in Tucson; 40,290 inmates statewide have been tested; and one total test result is pending in the state prison system. A total of 712 prison staff members have self-reported testing positive, the state corrections department said. Seventeen incarcerated people in Arizona have been confirmed to have died of COVID-19, with 11 additional deaths under investigation. 

While race/ethnicity is unknown for 30% of cases statewide, 31% of cases are Hispanic or Latino, 26% are white, 6% are Native American, 3% are Black and 1% are Asian/Pacific Islander.

Laboratories have completed 1,543,445 diagnostic tests for COVID-19, 10.8% of which have come back positive. That number now includes both PCR and antigen testing. The percentage of positive tests had increased since mid-May but began decreasing in July and for the past five weeks has been at 4%. The state numbers leave out data from labs that do not report electronically.

Arizona as of Thursday had one of the highest overall rates of COVID-19 infection in the country — sixth behind Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, North Dakota and Alabama. Arizona’s infection rate is 3,103 cases per 100,000 people, the CDC says. The national average is 2,275 cases per 100,000 people, though the rates in states hard-hit early on in the pandemic may be an undercount due to a lack of available testing in March and April.

Reported deaths: 5,746 known deaths

On Friday, three new known deaths were reported.

County deaths: 3,458 in Maricopa, 630 in Pima, 347 in Yuma, 236 in Navajo, 228 in Mohave, 212 in Pinal, 166 in Apache, 145 in Coconino, 84 in Yavapai, 73 in Cochise, 64 in Santa Cruz, 60 in Gila, 26 in Graham, 15 in La Paz and fewer than three in Greenlee.

People aged 65 and older made up 4,080 of the 5,746 deaths, or 71%.

While race/ethnicity is unknown for 11% of deaths, 42% of those who died were white, 30% were Hispanic or Latino, 11% were Native American, 3% were Black and 1% were Asian/Pacific Islander, the state data show.

The global death toll on Friday was 1,063,084 and the U.S. has the highest death count of any country in the world, at 212,840. Arizona’s death total of 5,746 deaths represents 2.7% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. as of Friday.

The COVID-19 death rate in Arizona was 79 per 100,000 people as of Thursday, according to the CDC, putting it 10th in the country in a state ranking that separates New York City and New York state. The U.S. average is 64 deaths per 100,000 people, the CDC says.

Behind New York City, at 284 deaths per 100,000 people, the CDC placed the highest death rates ahead of Arizona as New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Louisiana, Rhode Island, Mississippi, the District of Columbia and New York state.

Reach the reporter at Alison.Steinbac[email protected] or at 602-444-4282. Follow her on Twitter @alisteinbach.

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