Arizona daily virus count jumps as older cases included

Arizona officials on Friday reported 1,302 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases, a daily increase nearly twice as high as the state’s recent daily average but which officials said was inflated by hundreds of months-old infections previously not documented as virus-related.

The state also reported seven more deaths as the pandemic totals increased to 848,202 cases and 17,062 deaths.

Not counting the 625 newly classified cases, the 677 other additional cases reported Friday nearly mirrored the state’s latest seven-day rolling average of 673 new cases as of Wednesday. That average doubled over the past two weeks from 327 on March 24, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The older cases were from Gila, Graham and Navajo counties and previously weren’t included in state counts because it wasn’t clear what testing was performed, the state Department of Health Services’ director said in her blog.

"More information is now available for these reports, and we can update case numbers to provide a more accurate picture of the trends in the pandemic," Dr. Cara Christ said.

Most of the previously uncounted cases were from the fall and winter surge — when the number of positive tests collected on one date peaked at 12,448 on Jan. 4 — and none were from March or April of this year, Christ said.

"We are fortunate that the daily number of new infections has dropped recently in our state — but one side effect is the greater visibility of the routine edits that increase the quality and completeness of information provided to the public," she said.

COVID-19-related hospitalizations remained in the recent range of 500 to 600 cases, with 571 as of Thursday, according to state data.

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.

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