Medical experts voice concerns as Arizona coronavirus deaths top 1,000

Arizona surpassed the 1,000 death mark as coronvirus cases continue to climb in the state.

The state Health Services Department on Friday reported more than 1,500 new cases of the virus and 16 additional deaths.

A total of 1,012 people have died since the first death was reported on March 21. The number of confirmed cases is now at 24,332.

Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said Thursday the government had expected an increase in cases and hospital metrics after Gov. Doug Ducey ended his stay-at-home order. Christ said hospitals are seeing more non-COVID hospital use, as more people are feeling comfortable to seek medical care.

When the order ended on May 15, the state had recorded 651 deaths and 13,169 cases. Ten days later, case numbers began climbing. That's about the time it takes for virus symptoms to appear.

Ducey addressed the rising number of cases in the state during a news conference on Thursday.

 "We’ve made the most responsive decisions possible. This virus is not going away," he said.

A case tracker updated daily by Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute shows the three-day average number of COVID-19 cases hit a monthly low of 222 on May 25. By Wednesday the three-day average topped 1,000 new cases per day.

"We will exceed our capacity if these trends continue," said Marjorie Bessel, Chief Clinical Officer with Banner Health, during a news conference on Friday.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Medical experts say the message for people everywhere remains the same.

"It’s really taking us back to the spring. Back to the basics. Washing your hands, keeping your distance to flatten the curve," said Dr. Micahel White, Medical Director with Valleywise.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

MAP: Worldwide interactive Coronavirus case data

MAP: Arizona Coronavirus cases by zip code


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Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough, and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus, but may put you in a better position to fight it.

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.