Arizona sees nearly 2,400 new virus cases, a daily high
PHOENIX, Ariz. – The number of new coronavirus cases in Arizona has hit an alarming new daily high of nearly 2,400 — almost double the previous record, health officials said June 16.
The state Department of Health Services reported 2,392 new cases and 25 additional deaths. Hospital intensive care units were hovering around 80 percent capacity with 1,307 people with the virus as of June 15.
A day earlier the state recorded 1,104 new cases and eight additional deaths. The number of hospitalizations was slightly higher with 1,449 patients. The number of hospitalizations each day has been at least 1,000 for more than two weeks straight.
Arizona has seen 39,097 cases and 1,219 deaths. It's unclear how many of the new cases are due to expanded testing.
Gov. Doug Ducey has said hospitals would possibly forego elective surgeries if capacity was 80 percent or greater to save space for a COVID-19 surge. So far, though, there have been no indications that elective surgeries will be delayed.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society, in a joint effort with CVS Health, has started offering rapid, free virus testing for uninsured people by appointment at the nonprofit's clinic in Phoenix. The goal is to allow people from low-income and other disproportionately affected communities to be tested, with results provided on the spot.
Licensed health care providers who work for CVS are staffing the testing operation. CVS also announced last week it added 14 more retail drive-thru testing locations to 35 others already open in Arizona.
The number of new cases has leaped over the past two weeks. Ducey's stay-at-home order expired more than a month ago.
Arizona has drawn national attention as one of several emerging virus hot spots. Some experts have criticized Ducey and his administration for not doing more to stop the spread such as enforcing face masks and increasing contact tracing.
Nearly 700 Arizona doctors and other medical providers have signed a letter urging Ducey to mandate the use of face masks in public for anyone older than 2. The group states there is "sufficient, clear, scientific evidence" that wearing masks lessens the spread of the virus, ABC15.com reported. Patrick Ptak, the governor's spokesman, said June 16 that COVID-19 remains the highest priority and the state recommended that everyone wear a face covering when out in public. The state will continue to remind people to follow public health guidelines, he said.