PHOENIX — Arizona continues to "bend the curve" in new coronavirus cases despite a reported spike in deaths Thursday.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, there were 172 new deaths from the virus Thursday, bringing the total to 3,626. The number of new cases was 2,525 as the total case number surpassed 170,000.

Seventy-eight of the 172 additional deaths were reported as a result of death certificate matching.

In-patient hospitalizations, ventilators in use and intensive care unit occupancy continued to trend downward slightly.

Pinal County had eight new deaths reported along with 155 new cases. The total number of deaths in the county stands at 132 while the number of cases reported is 7,875.

There were 36 new cases reported in the San Tan Valley/Queen Creek area, bringing its total to 2,195, the highest in the county. Casa Grande had 36 new cases, while Maricopa had 24.

The virus has claimed over 150,000 lives in the U.S., by far the highest death toll in the world, plus more than a half-million others around the globe.

Over the past week, the average number of deaths per day in the U.S. has climbed more than 25%, from 843 to 1,057. Florida on Thursday reported 253 more deaths, setting its third straight single-day record. The number of confirmed infections nationwide has topped 4.4 million.

Based on a seven-day rolling average, daily cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. fell from 67,317 on July 22 to 65,266 on Wednesday, according to data kept by Johns Hopkins University. That is a decline of about 3%.

The Associated Press found the seven-day rolling average for new cases decreased in Arizona. The trend in Arizona is “starting to bend the curve a bit," said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins public health researcher.

Some researchers believe that the recent leveling off is the result of more people wearing masks.

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