Health officials: Arizona COVID-19 triage care again likely

This Dec. 2020, photo, provided by Banner Health shows a refrigerator truck trailer in use at Banner - University Medical Center Phoenix, one of the Phoenix-based hospital chain's hospitals to augment its morgue. Arizonans need to "shrink their circles" of personal contacts and gatherings to help the state's health care system from being overrun by the state's current surge of COVID-19 cases, a senior official of the major hospital chain says. State and local governments also need to do more to reduce the coronavirus's spread, the effect of which has forced one of Banner Health's hospitals to start using a refrigerated truck trailer to augment its now-full morgue, said Dr. Marjorie Bessel, the Phoenix-based hospital chain's chief clinical officer. (Banner Health via AP)

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona on Thursday reported nearly 300 more coronavirus deaths, a pandemic-high number of fatalities for the second time this week, along with almost 10,000 additional known cases.

As on Tuesday when the state reported a then-record 253 deaths, the Department of Health Services said most of the 297 deaths reported Thursday were newly attributed to recent reviews of past death certificates.

The additional 297 deaths and the additional 9,913 cases increased the state's pandemic totals to 584,593 cases with 9,741 deaths.

Pinal County reported 18 new deaths Thursday bringing its total to over 400 to 407. The county also reported 768 new cases, for a total of 31,497.

The surge has stressed Arizona's health care system, and the state's coronavirus dashboard reported a record high of 4,920 COVID-19 patients occupying inpatient hospital beds as of Wednesday.

The 1,101 patients in intensive care beds also set a record.

The state's seven-day rolling average of daily new cases rose over the past two weeks from 6,293.4 new cases on Dec. 23 to 8,994.43 on Wednesday, while the rolling average of new daily deaths rose from 92.7 to 103.7.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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