Arizona health agency reduces frequency of pandemic updates

A person is tested for the COVID-19 Coronavirus Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at Cesar Chavez City Park in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Arizona’s public health agency on Saturday provided its last planned daily update of the state’s coronavirus dashboard of pandemic data such as additional COVID-19 cases, new deaths, and hospitalization levels.

The state Department of Health Services announced on February 18 that it would switch to weekly dashboard updates starting next Wednesday because the outbreak is slowing and to be consistent with other infectious diseases that are reported.

“It also will provide a clearer view of COVID-19 trends by smoothing the variability in daily reporting by labs and other sources,” the department’s announcement said.

In the dashboard’s final daily update released Saturday, virus-related inpatient hospitalizations dropped for the 29th straight day, falling to 1,313 as of Friday. That’s down from 3,559 on January 27, which was the peak of the now-ebbing coronavirus infection wave associated with the omicron variant.

The additional 1,638 newly confirmed infection cases and 15 additional deaths reported by the dashboard on Saturday boosted the state’s pandemic totals to 1,976,890 infection cases and 27,946 deaths.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, Arizona’s seven-day rolling average of new infection cases dropped from 5,239.6 on February 9 to 1,944.7 on Wednesday while the rolling average of daily deaths rose from 60.9 to 68.3 over the same period.

The dashboard’s change incorporates new delays in reporting some data, waiting for two weeks before reporting hospitalizations and a month before reporting deaths, the Arizona Republic reported.

“It’s different from what people have gotten used to with COVID data but not different from how we do it with other infectious disease data,” said Jessica Rigler, Arizona Department of Health Services assistant director.

She added: “You are getting a more complete picture of what happened in that week instead of data just trickling in.”

Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.