PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona on March 6 reported 54 COVID-19 deaths and 1,735 additional confirmed cases as the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations dipped below 1,000 for the first time in four months.
With the latest figures released by the Department of Health Services, the state’s pandemic totals rose to 825,119 cases and 16,323 deaths.
As of Friday, 966 COVID-19 patients occupied inpatient beds, down from 1,043 as of Thursday and about a fifth of the Jan. 11 pandemic high of 5,082, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.
However, Friday’s hospitalization census was still twice as high as Sept. 27′s count of 468, the low between last summer’s surge and worse but now-receding fall and winter surge.
Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers
Seven-day rolling averages of daily new cases and daily deaths continued to decline, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project.
The rolling average of new cases dropped from 1,512 on Feb. 19 to 1,265.1 on Friday while the rolling average of new deaths dropped from 83.9 to 63.2 during the same period.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
Citing the state’s recent steady drop in confirmed new cases and the administration of more than 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday lifted capacity restrictions at restaurants, gyms and other businesses.
"With the vaccine rollout advancing rapidly, we continue to have hope for the future," he said.
According to the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 18.7% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of vaccine, and about half of those people are fully vaccinated.
The Health System Alliance of Arizona, a group representing major hospital systems, said it opposed Ducey’s move.
"Now is not the time to relax our mitigation efforts; we must stay the course to ensure that our vaccination efforts can outpace the spread of the virus," the group said.
Ducey’s order did not lift the state’s requirements for social distancing and masking requirements for businesses nor affect local governments’ mask mandates. Arizona doesn’t have a statewide mask mandate.