Peter Wells in New York
Arizona, one of the summer hot spots for coronavirus in the US, reported more than 1,000 new infections on Thursday for the first time in a month.
A further 1,113 people tested positive over the past 24 hours, the state health department revealed this morning, up from 901 yesterday and compared with 863 last week.
That is the state’s biggest one-day jump in new infections since September 18, when 1,282 were reported.
A further 17 deaths were attributed to coronavirus, up from five yesterday and compared with 10 a week ago. It was the largest daily increase in deaths since October 2.
The rise above the 1,000-case level comes at a concerning time, as many of Arizona’s seven neighbouring states in the “Mountain” subregion of the US are experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases and rising hospitalisations. The seven-day average daily case rates in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming are all at their highest levels of the pandemic, while the number of patients currently in hospitals in the Mountain region overall is up 47 per cent from four weeks ago to 2,533.
Arizona was among the so-called sunbelt states — alongside California, Florida and Texas — that became hotspots for coronavirus over the summer. In early July, the Grand Canyon state set its peak seven-day average of 3,844 cases a day, or 53 new cases per 100,000 people. That population adjusted rate ranks as the fifth-highest peak rate among US states, according to a Financial Times analysis of Covid Tracking Project and US Census Bureau data.
Efforts to bring the state’s coronavirus surge eventually bore fruit. In mid-June, Arizona governor Doug Ducey allowed counties and cities to set their own requirements for wearing face masks (although a statewide order was never issued). By early July, the state’s reopening had been reversed, with Mr Ducey closing bars, gyms and cinemas, limiting restaurant capacity and delaying the start of the new school year.
A month ago, Arizona’s seven-day average of 373 new cases a day was less than one-tenth of its summer peak, and was also at its lowest since late May.
On Thursday, that average stood at about 764 a day, although average deaths, of nearly seven a day, hover at the lowest level since early April.
The number of people currently in Arizona hospitals has risen by about one-third over the past four weeks to hit 711, according to Wednesday data from Covid Tracking Project.
Recent case counts may not be as comparable with periods earlier in the pandemic due to the increased testing capacity in the US. Similarly, recent death rates for states may be lower than earlier in the crisis due to greater knowledge, improved treatment and preparation for the disease.