508 Coronavirus Cases Confirmed in Arizona as Outbreak Spreads to 13 Counties

The Arizona State Department of Health Services upgraded the community transmission level of COVID-19 in the state today to “widespread.”

As of this morning, 508 cases have been identified and eight people in Arizona have died from the virus. The outbreak has now spread to at least 13 counties, with La Paz and Mohave today reporting their first cases.

At a press conference yesterday, DHS Director Dr. Cara Christ said COVID-19 cases in Arizona are expected to peak in mid-April, while hospitalizations will be highest mid-May. Worst-case-scenario projections analyzed by Dr. Christ and DHS also show that Arizona could need an additional 16,000 hospital beds and 1,500 more ICU beds — almost double what is currently available.

Chart based on ADHS data

Chart based on ADHS data

Meg O’Connor

Yesterday, Dr. Christ said for the first time how many Arizonans have been tested for COVID-19. Previously, state health officials would not report on the number of people tested by private labs.

In total, 6,600 people in Arizona have been tested for the virus since the outbreak began in late January, DHS now says. Arizona has a population of nearly 7.2 million, meaning to date, 0.092 percent of Arizona’s population has been tested for the virus.

Health officials expect the number of positive cases to continue rising exponentially as testing becomes more widely available. On Monday, Banner Health, the largest health system in Arizona, launched four drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites, three in Phoenix and one in Tucson.

The actual number of cases in the state is likely much higher, since so many people who have tried to get tested have been refused. Christ has acknowledged there are not enough tests for everyone who wants to get tested.

The Mohave County Department of Public Health said that county’s first case involves an adult from the Lake Havasu City service area. The person is home recovering in isolation. The second case is an adult from the Bullhead City service area, also said to be at home and recovering in isolation.

Both of the La Paz County cases involve people who were tested because they had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in another state. Both individuals are home recovering in isolation, public health officials said in a press release.

A majority of the newest cases are in Maricopa County, which has 299 cases to date — 48 new cases since yesterday. Fifty-eight people in the county have been hospitalized, and 20 are in the intensive care unit. Four people have died.

Pima County has the second-highest concentration of cases among counties, with 75. Two of the eight people who have died from COVID-19 so far in the state are from Pima. The county has released only limited information on the age ranges and genders of the 75 cases. Previously, the Pima County Health Department shared information about the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 on their website. That information has since been removed.

On Monday night, PCHD announced that a woman in her 50s with underlying health conditions died from COVID-19. She was the county’s 25th case and first death. Officials said they received the positive lab report on Monday evening. PCHD has yet to share information on the county’s second death from the disease.

On Wednesday evening, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez reported that 69 people in the Nation had tested positive for COVID-19, including 43 in Navajo County, eight in Apache County, six in Coconino County in Arizona, and four in McKinley County, seven in San Juan County, and one in Cibola County in New Mexico.

Many of the Navajo Nation’s cases originate from the community of Chilchinbeto, prompting the Navajo Health Command Operations Center to issue a Public Health Emergency Order requiring the closure of the community for quarantine and isolation (a shelter-in-place order) to limit the spread of the virus. Last week, the Navajo Nation expanded the stay-at-home order to apply to all residents of the Nation. The order requires residents to remain isolated at home and requires all nonessential businesses to close to prevent further spread of the virus.

The outbreak in Chilchinbeto seems to be linked to a gathering at Chilchinbeto Church on March 7, where one person in the congregation later tested positive for COVID-19, the Navajo Times reported. Since then, several people who attended or had family members who did have tested positive for the virus. On Tuesday, state health officials announced a Navajo woman in her 50s was the fifth person in Arizona to die from the virus.

As far as other Arizona counties, besides the increase in Maricopa, Pima, and Navajo, and the first cases in La Paz and Mohave, since Wednesday:

Pinal added 12 new cases (35 total), but has yet to release any additional information on the new cases.

Coconino identified five new cases (28 total). A Coconino County man was the sixth person to die from COVID-19 in Arizona. On Tuesday, health officials announced that a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions had died from the virus. That same day, a Coconino County Health and Human Services told Phoenix New Times they don’t have data on how many of their cases involve hospitalizations.

Apache identified two new cases (nine total). The county did not provide any additional details.

Yavapai identified one new case (five total). The county did not provide any additional details.

Yuma identified one new case (four total). The county did not provide any additional details.

Cochise identified one new case (two total). The first Cochise County case involves a female adult who is recovering at home in isolation and seems to have contracted the virus through domestic travel. The second case involves a female adult who just returned home from overseas travel and is recovering at home in isolation.

Santa Cruz identified one new case (two total). The second confirmed case involves a person who had traveled to an area with community spread of the virus. The individual is home recovering in isolation.

Chart based on ADHS data

Chart based on ADHS data

Meg O’Connor

The DHS said it had tested 403 people for COVID-19 as of today.

Of those tested as of today, 347 cases have already been ruled out. There are 33 cases are pending, and 52 of the samples tested by the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory have come back positive. (That adds up to more than 403, but the DHS has yet to explain the discrepancy.) An additional 455 samples tested by private labs have also come back positive. In total, including commercial labs, 6,600 of the state’s over 7 million residents have been tested for COVID-19 so far.

On March 11, there were 1,200 cases of the coronavirus across 41 states in the country.

As of Thursday morning, there are nearly 69,000 known cases across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and three U.S. territories. At least 990 Americans have died since becoming infected. The majority of the cases are in New York state (over 37,000 confirmed cases and at least 385 deaths).