COVID-19 cases rising in Arizona, still well below pandemic highs

Posted at 6:13 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 21:13:54-04

Weekly COVID-19 cases in Arizona are back above ten thousand. The state has seen a rise in cases for the past four weeks, but rates are still well below pandemic highs.

Arizona Department of Health Services added 11,498 COVID-19 cases to the dashboard. Most of these cases tested positive on May 15 or later, an 86% increase in weekly case numbers since the first week of May. Recent cases are still about 90% fewer than the omicron peak in January.

With rising cases comes rising positivity rates. Embry health is one of the largest community testing groups in Arizona. Their daily dashboard shows that more than 1 in 5 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since May 10, with rates rising as high as 1 in 3 people in the past few days.

Hospitalizations are also rising, though it is not as pronounced as cases. Health and Human Services data shows inpatient hospitalizations reached a 2022 low of 236 occupied beds in early May. Today the reported number of patients is 397, a 68% increase.

COVID-19 deaths continue to be low, under 100 every week for the past two months. Due to the nature of COVID-19 death reporting, it can take time for deaths to show up in the dashboard. The state added 40 new deaths to the dashboard, a number that is spread out over several weeks. It is the third lowest reported number since the health department went to weekly reports.

Other federal data backs this up.

The CDC calculates how many overall deaths that are expected in each week based on a combination of past numbers and population changes. This is then compared to the number of observed deaths to get what is called an “excess death” percentage. During the pandemic, the number of observed weekly deaths exceeded the number of expected deaths nearly every week. This trend is finally starting to end. Expected and observed deaths have been tracking closely in Arizona since late February.