Reported COVID-19 cases in Arizona continued to increase at a relatively consistent weekly pace, with still large portions of tests for the virus returning positive, according to the state’s weekly update.
Health officials on Wednesday added 15,034 new COVID-19 cases and 74 new known deaths over the weeklong period ending July 30. June and July have seen relatively similar weekly case additions.
Case counts are still far below the winter, state data shows. Case numbers in recent months likely are not showing the full picture of infections as many more people have used at-home test kits and may not report positive results to their doctors or county health departments.
Arizona, like other states, is seeing an ongoing case increase largely driven by two contagious subvariants of the virus, BA.4 and BA.5, with BA.5 the more dominant of the two. It’s also likely contributing to reinfections given its contagiousness and ability to evade antibodies.
Residents in five of Arizona’s 15 counties should be wearing face masks indoors in public because of COVID-19 levels, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of Thursday. Those counties were Mohave, Navajo, Apache, Yuma and La Paz.
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The CDC’s “community level” guidance is updated weekly and ranks counties as low, medium and high, or green, yellow and orange. The six Arizona counties designated as “medium” were Coconino, Gila, Graham, Cochise, Santa Cruz and Pima. Maricopa, Yavapai, Pinal and Greenlee were “low” as of Thursday.
The metrics are based on a county’s COVID-19 hospital bed use, COVID-19 hospital admissions and case rates for the virus over the past week.
Reported cases since the pandemic began are over 2.2 million. Known deaths in Arizona exceed 30,800.
Wednesday marked the 23rd of the weekly updates to the state’s data dashboard, instead of daily updates that Arizonans became accustomed to following for the latest data on infections, illnesses and deaths.
The previous week’s update added 17,249 cases and 70 deaths, compared with 18,135 cases and 66 deaths, 15,280 cases and 60 deaths, 20,198 cases (high because old cases were added) and 57 deaths, 16,514 cases and 63 deaths, 15,373 cases and 52 deaths, 16,334 cases and 28 deaths, 14,677 cases and 40 deaths, 13,042 cases and 33 deaths, 11,498 cases and 40 deaths, 7,204 cases and 29 deaths, 5,490 cases and 41 deaths, 3,911 cases and 238 deaths, 2,350 cases and 99 deaths, 2,377 cases and 29 deaths (low because of a processing error), 2,777 cases and 142 deaths, 6,840 cases and 413 deaths, 10,143 cases (high because of a reporting catch-up) and 385 deaths, 4,566 cases and 336 deaths, 5,153 cases and 457 deaths, 6,549 cases and 382 deaths and 9,647 cases and 449 deaths the 21 weeks prior.
This week’s update shows the differences between data reported for the week of July 24-30 and July 17-23.
Health officials say weekly updates match how public health monitors trends and other disease reporting.
Case numbers generally were relatively lower in the past couple of…