Coronavirus latest: Arizona reports worst daily death toll as Covid hospitalisations hit record high


Peter Wells in New York

Arizona on Tuesday reported its deadliest day of the pandemic, underscoring the state’s status as one of the hottest coronavirus hotspot in the US.

Authorities attributed a further 335 deaths to coronavirus, the health department revealed this morning, up from six on Monday. That surpassed the previous single-day record of 297 fatalities reported on January 7.

That took the total number of deaths in Arizona since the start of the pandemic to 10,482, just days after the state became the 11th to reach the grim milestone of 10,000 coronavirus fatalities.

Arizona’s health department also revealed this morning that a further 8,559 people had tested positive over the past 24 hours. That compared to an average over the past week of a record 9,803 a day. Only California, Texas, Florida and New York – the most populous states in the US – have averaged more cases over the past week.

The latest figures come less than a day after Governor Doug Ducey warned that the risk of coronavirus was “still serious, and so is the pressure on our hospitals and medical personnel” but gave few hints that he would reintroduce restrictions on the economy.

In his state of the state address on Monday, Mr Ducey said he had been “entrusted by the people of Arizona with this responsibility” to deal with the public health emergency, but that he was “not going to hand over the keys to a small group of mayors who have expressed every intention of locking down their cities.”

The governor claimed other states and cities that had reintroduced restrictions on social gatherings and business had little to show for their efforts. “They’re still dealing with the worst of it, just as we are,” he said.

Adjusted for population, Arizona’s coronavirus metrics are as bad as they have ever been and are among some of the worst levels experienced by any state during the pandemic. For every 100,000 people, Arizona has averaged 135 new cases and 2.29 deaths a day over the past week.

That death rate is the highest rate in the US at present — well ahead of second-ranked Kansas at about 1.8 deaths per 100,000 a day over the past week, according to a Financial Times analysis of Covid Tracking Project and US Census Bureau data. Only New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, South Dakota, North Dakota and Iowa have experienced a higher rate at any point during the pandemic.

Arizona’s per capita infection rate over the past week is the highest rate in the US, ahead of second-ranked Rhode Island at about 107 and third-ranked California at about 105. Only North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Tennessee have ever notched up higher population-adjusted seven-day averages of cases, according to FT analysis of Covid Tracking Project and Census Bureau data.

There were a record 4,997 people in Arizona hospitals with coronavirus, according to the latest Covid Tracking Project data on Monday. Adjusted for population, that is nearly 69 patients per 100,000 people, a level that has only been exceeded by New York and New Jersey — each above 90 patients — during the worst of their crisis in April of last year.