This is a regularly updated story with the latest information, news and updates about the coronavirus and its impact in Arizona and beyond for Saturday, Oct. 24.
PHOENIX – Arizona health authorities reported 890 new coronavirus cases and four additional deaths on Saturday morning.
That put the state’s documented totals at 236,772 COVID-19 infections and 5,869 fatalities, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Key metrics about the severity of Arizona’s pandemic have dropped dramatically from summertime peaks, but cases and hospitalizations have been trending upward this month.
Saturday ended a four-day streak with at least 900 new cases reported.
The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 hospital inpatients increased slightly to 819 on Friday, 39.7% higher than Oct. 1, when it was 586.
The number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds increased to 191, 52.8% higher than Oct. 1, when it was 125.
The hospitalizations remain far under the pandemic highs of 3,517 inpatients and 970 ICU patients, both recorded July 13.
Arizona’s weekly percent positivity for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, an indicator of how much the virus is spreading in the community, is on pace to be the highest seen in more than two months.
For the 49,841 tests recorded since Sunday, the positivity rate was 6%, the highest since it was 8% for the week starting Aug. 2. The rate had been as high as 20% at the end of June.
Weekly rates are based on when the samples are taken, not when they are reported, so the percentage for recent weeks can fluctuate as labs get caught up on testing and the results are documented by the state.
The rolling seven-day average for the state health department’s newly reported cases was at 913.71 for Friday, according to tracking by The Associated Press, 90.4% higher than the average of 480 on Oct. 1.
The seven-day average of newly reported deaths, however, is 39.1% lower than it was at the start of the month. It was 8.43 on Friday and has been below 12 each day since Oct. 5. It was 16.43 on Oct. 1.
The seven-day averages remain well below their peaks of 3,844 cases on July 6 and 94 fatalities on July 30.
The Arizona health department’s daily reports present case, death and testing data after the state receives statistics and confirms them, which can lag by several days or more. They don’t represent the actual activity over the past 24 hours.
The hospitalization data posted each morning is reported the previous evening by the hospitals.
As cases skyrocketed in June, local governments in many parts of Arizona — including all of Maricopa County — implemented face mask requirements, and Gov. Doug Ducey issued statewide executive orders to close certain businesses and restrict restaurant occupancy.
The spread of COVID-19 slowed after those steps were taken. All of Arizona’s counties have since hit benchmarks established by the health department that allow closed businesses to reopen under capacity restrictions and other regulations.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has no impact on some people and is seriously debilitating or fatal for others. Infected people without symptoms — which include but are not limited to cough, fever and difficulty breathing — are capable of spreading the virus.
Below are Saturday’s latest developments about the coronavirus pandemic from around the state, country and world:
For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.