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Arizona blames rise in COVID-19 cases on ‘reporting issue’

July 14, 2021 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona on Wednesday reported its largest daily number of COVID-19 infections in four months, but public health officials attributed the rise to an “electronic reporting issue” that had lowered the numbers the two previous days.

The 1,945 cases reported Wednesday was the largest daily increase since 2,276 infections were reported on March 5, at the tail end of the winter surge, according to data from the state’s coronavirus dashboard. The rise follows daily case reports of 122 and 345 on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

The reporting system had a “bug” that prevented results from including some case reports the past two days, Department of Health Services spokesman Steve Elliot said in an email. The problem has been fixed, he said.

Elliot also stressed that a single day’s additions “do not represent a trend.”

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However, the surge of infections came after a gradual increase in new daily confirmed cases statewide, a trend reported across the country due to the fast-spreading delta variant, lagging vaccination rates and Fourth of July gatherings.

Arizona’s seven-day average of daily new cases rose over the past two weeks from 510 on June 28 to 571 on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, said there’s no denying a rise in cases.

“It could be the beginning of an exponential swing,” said Humble, who used to lead the state Department of Health Services.

He believes there will be potential for as many as 1,500 new cases a day later this summer. However, that shouldn’t translate into more hospitalizations and deaths, Humble said. About half the state’s eligible population is vaccinated.

Virus-related hospitalizations have inched upward, with 669 COVID-19 patients occupying hospital beds as of Tuesday. Such hospitalizations in Arizona have generally ranged between 500 and 600 in the past two months, according to the state’s dashboard.

Arizona also reported 21 deaths Wednesday. The state has had 903,851 cases and 18,076 deaths since the pandemic began.

Humble said it’s becoming obvious that virtually all virus deaths involved unvaccinated people.

“You can choose to get vaccinated or choose to get infected,” Humble said.

More than 6.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in Arizona to date. Over 3.6 million people have received at least one dose. More than 3.2 million people have gotten both doses.

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Associated Press writer Terry Tang in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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The summary of this story has been corrected to reflect that the Department of Health Services said the problem has been fixed.