State Watch

Arizona has worst day of confirmed coronavirus cases yet

Arizona experienced its worst day of the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, reporting 310 new infections which pushed the state's total confirmed case count to 5,769.

Additionally, 66 Arizonans have died from the disease in the past three days, the most the state has seen in that time frame to date.

Nearly 3,000 of the state's cases have come from Maricopa County, where the cities of Phoenix and Mesa are located, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

Also on Thursday, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) announced that it was receiving an additional $12.4 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to combat the outbreak.

ADHS had already received $16.4 million from the agency to boost Arizona's public health response to the pandemic.

"The Arizona response to the COVID-19 outbreak continues to be our top priority, and we will be working with our local public health departments to augment the statewide system for aggressive case investigation and contact tracing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," ADHS Director Cara Christ said in a statement.

"Our public health strategy is to reduce the spread of the disease, protect those who are most at risk for serious complications, and ensure our healthcare system has the capacity to treat those who need care," the statement added.

Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued a stay-at-home order for Arizona on March 30.

Since then, the state has struggled with maintaining an aggressive level of testing.

Last week, Arizona conducted 11,127 tests, an increase from the previous week. However, that amount is still 13 percent less than the number of tests conducted the week before Ducey issued his stay-at-home order, according to The Arizona Republic.

The percentage of positive tests has increased since the end of March, from 9 percent to 12 percent.

Many lawmakers and experts have indicated that more widespread testing across the country is needed before states can start lifting the restrictions they have put into place during the pandemic.

William Haseltine - an infectious disease expert and president of the global health think tank ACCESS Health International - told the Republic that Arizona would need to have the capacity to test 100,000 people a month before if can reopen its economy safely.

Christ noted that the state had expanded its testing capacity, opening up the criteria to "anyone who thinks they have been exposed to and could be infected with COVID-19." She said the criteria had previously been limited to "high-risk individuals and those with specific symptoms."

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