Arizona hits new daily high in COVID-19 cases, but no deaths

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In this March 19, 2020, file photo Gov. Doug Ducey, left, hands a bag of food to a student outside Sunset Elementary School in Phoenix. Citing the state's surge of COVID-19 cases, Arizona's top education official on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, called for Ducey to order that public schools use only distance learning for the next two weeks without waivers from health officials. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

Arizona health officials reported a big jump in coronavirus pandemic numbers on Sunday, including a record daily high of more than 17,200 new confirmed cases — a number they say could be partially inflated by a lag in reporting during the holiday weekend.

Just 7% of hospital beds were available statewide and 61% of intensive care unit beds were occupied by 1,081 patients fighting the virus, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Department spokesman Steve Elliott told the Arizona Republic the jump in daily cases could be due to a reporting lag as well as the spread of the virus during Christmas gatherings.

The single-day total of 17,234 new confirmed cases topped the previous daily record of 12,314 set Dec. 8.

Arizona is among U.S. states with the highest numbers of coronavirus cases. The AZfamily group of Phoenix television stations, noted the more than 200,000 new cases COVID-19 reported in December was double the number of cases reported for the month of November.

The statewide overall tally of known cases since the pandemic began was 556,384. The death toll stands at 9,061.

The number of infections is thought to be higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

The crush of COVID-19 patients has caused some Phoenix and Tucson-area hospitals to suspend elective surgeries and turn away ambulance patients or transfers from other hospitals, while still accepting walk-patients needing emergency care.

Hospital officials have discussed triage protocols that the state could order to decide which patients get access to limited resources.

Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.