Arizona to send federal money to counties for virus testing

Arizona on Feb. 19 announced it would provide $100 million of federal funding to the state’s 15 counties for COVID-19 testing.

The state Department of Health Services said the $100 million represents an initial amount and is being provided for staffing, laboratory testing "and other activities critical to combating COVID-19."

The department’s announcement of the funding followed Pima County officials’ recent declaration that they might halt COVID-19 testing as of Monday because of a lack of funding.

In another development, the department on Friday reported 1,918 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and 145 deaths, increasing the state’s pandemic totals to 804,116 cases and 1,918 deaths.

According to the state’s coronavirus dashboard, hospitalized COVID-19 patients occupied 1,738 inpatient beds as of Thursday, about a third of the pandemic high of 5,082 on Jan. 11.

With the reduction in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Phoenix-based Banner Health announced Friday it was easing visitor restrictions at hospitals though it said visitors still would be required to wear masked and would undergo health screening before entering.

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.

MAP: Arizona Coronavirus cases by zip code

FULL COVERAGE: fox10phoenix.com/coronavirus

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