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Arizona sees drop in coronavirus hospitalizations

PHOENIX — Hospital administrators across Arizona warned residents Wednesday not to become complacent because of a noticeable decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, stressing the importance of wearing masks and social distancing.

“Mitigation and enforcement will be much more effective in reducing COVID cases and deaths in the coming months,” said Dr. Marjorie Bessel, the chief clinical officer for Banner Health. The health care company’s hospital system is estimated to be caring for about half of the state’s COVID-19 patients.

Bessel and other health care officials said even with statistics trending downward, Arizona is still recording figures higher than last July’s virus surge. The state Department of Health Services reported 5,918 additional known cases and 195 deaths, increasing the state’s pandemic totals to 738,561 cases and 12,643 deaths.

Arizona had the worst COVID-19 diagnosis rating among U.S. states over the past week when one in every 153 residents was reported to be newly infected. The diagnosis rate is a state’s population divided by the number of new cases over the past week.

Hospitals and public health experts are also worried that Arizona could experience another surge in March if reported variants of the virus surface in the state, said Dr. Michael White of Valleywise Health.

Arizona’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases dropped over the past two weeks, declining from 9,803.7 per day on Jan. 12 to 6,706.29 on Tuesday.

The rolling average of daily deaths rose from 166.4 to 168.9 during the same period, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and The COVID-Tracking Project,

According to the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 4,250 COVID-19 patients occupied hospital beds as of Tuesday, above the 4,221 on Monday and below the pandemic record of 5,028 on Jan. 1.

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

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