PHOENIX (AP) — Metro Phoenix has averaged more than 1,800 new cases of the coronavirus daily over the past week, compared to about 200 in May, health officials said Wednesday.
More than a third of the nearly 35,000 cases in the area have come in the past week, and 24 additional deaths were reported.
Meanwhile, public health officials in Maricopa County say the total number of ICU beds occupied by patients with COVID-19 has reached its highest level in the pandemic. And the percentage of cases among people ranging from 20 to 44 has been steadily climbing since Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order was lifted in mid-May and the state emerged as a hotspot for the virus.
Half of the cases being reported in the county involve people 20 to 44. Those who are 65 and older account for 12 percent of cases.
Maricopa County officials voted last week to require people to wear masks in enclosed public places where social distancing can’t be maintained. People working at stores, restaurants and other public places also are required to wear masks.
Six hundred and ninety people in Maricopa County who contracted COVID-19 have died, accounting for nearly half of the 1,463 deaths in Arizona from the virus since the pandemic began.
Across Arizona, 79 additional deaths were reported on Wednesday, though officials said two-thirds of those were the result of analysis of deaths that weren’t previously attributed to COVID-19.
Officials reported 1,795 additional cases, bringing Arizona’s total number to nearly 60,000.
More than 2,200 people were hospitalized Tuesday because of COVID-19, up from 2,136 on Monday.
The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care beds dropped to 581 Tuesday from a record 614 on Monday.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
In other developments:
— Gov. Doug Ducey announced $270 million would be provided to help public schools open safely, including $200 million for remote learning and protecting against budget shortfalls due to declining enrollment and another $40 million to expand broadband in rural areas.