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Arizona reports 2nd big case jump, again cites method change

September 18, 2020 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona health officials on Friday reported for the second consecutive day a sizable increase in additional COVID-19 cases, again largely attributing the hike to a change in the state’s counting method.

The Department of Health Services reported 1,281 additional cases, well above the several hundreds typically reported daily in recent weeks, but below the 1,753 cases reported Thursday.

The department on Friday also reported 42 additional deaths as the statewide totals increased to 5,841 deaths and 212,942 cases.

Of the 1,281 cases reported Friday, 764 were attributed to positive results from antigen tests dating from before September.

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The department announced Thursday that it was adopting an updated national definition to include “probable” case findings from antigen tests of people without symptoms or contact with people known to have COVID-19.

The additional 1,753 cases reported Thursday included 577 from antigen testing during September. Thursday’s cases also reflected a separate surge in test results, the department said.

Both days’ additional cases were well above the 695 reported Wednesday and smaller numbers reported daily recently.

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.

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.

In other developments:

— University of Arizona President Robert Robbins said recruiting and retention efforts yield better-than-expected results in net tuition revenue so a pandemic-prompted program of pay cuts and furloughs will end earlier than previously planned.

Robbins said Thursday the adjusted plan will be announced in coming weeks, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

An organization of university faculty, students and staff called the announcement a “big win.”

“Now what that means exactly remains to be seen,” said Sandra Soto, a member of the Coalition for Academic Justice and an associate professor.