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Arizona reports zero virus deaths for 1st time in 3 weeks

August 18, 2020 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona officials reported an additional 468 cases of the coronavirus and zero deaths on Monday, marking the first time in three weeks that the state hasn’t reported a death from the virus.

The last day when Arizona had no coronavirus deaths to report was on July 27. Totals released on Mondays typically have a lower number of deaths, when compared to other days, because of a lag in weekend reporting.

Since the pandemic began, Arizona has reported more than 194,000 cases of the virus and 4,506 deaths.

According to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Associated Press, seven-day rolling averages of daily new cases in Arizona and of daily deaths in the state have sharply declined over the past two weeks.

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COVID-19-related hospitalizations in Arizona peaked about a month ago following Gov. Doug Ducey’s lifting of stay-home orders in May.

With Arizona then becoming a national hot spot, Ducey in late June re-imposed some restrictions and allowed local governments to impose masking requirements.

— In other developments, the Arizona Department of Economic Security said it began sending out additional $300 per week payments to people who lost their jobs because of the pandemic on Monday after receiving federal approval.

Gov. Doug Ducey announced last week that he had agreed to implement President Donald Trump’s stopgap measure but without a $100 additional state payment.

The president acted on his own after Congress failed to agree on an extension of a temporary $600-per-week payment that expired in Arizona on July 25.

Under that program that began in early April, people in Arizona who lost jobs got a total of $840 a week. Arizona’s regular unemployment benefit is the second lowest in the nation and well below that of neighboring states, but Ducey has declined to push for higher rates.

The maximum payment under the new program will be $540 per week. Payments are expected to include two weeks of retroactive $300 per week, which comes from a federal disaster relief fund that could quickly be depleted.

More than 370,000 Arizonans were receiving unemployment benefits last week, up from about 17,500 before the pandemic hit in March and Ducey began ordering businesses to close to contain the spread of the virus. The $600 supplemental payments have helped many stay afloat, along with the businesses they patronize and the governments collecting taxes.

— The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested. 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.

But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness including pneumonia and death.