PHOENIX (AP) — Gov. Doug Ducey has ordered Arizona hospitals, testing labs and other health care facilities to keep reporting detailed information about COVID-19 to the state so officials can gauge the spread of the coronavirus outbreak and availability of hospital beds and other resources.
Ducey on Wednesday issued an executive order that extends the so-called Enhanced Surveillance Advisory for 60 days as the state experiences a renewed surge in COVID-19 cases amid increased testing positivity and a rising death toll.
The continued flow of data will provide state Department of Health Services officials “with the real-time information they need to make informed decisions and allocate critical resources while keeping the public informed," Ducey, a Republican, said in a statement.
The department's director, Dr. Cara Christ, said the reports provide data made available to the public through the department's coronavirus dashboard.
The advisory has required hospitals and other facilities to report daily statistics on staff resources, ventilator availability, intensive care unit bed availability, inpatient bed availability and levels of personal protective equipment and medical supplies. Testing laboratories report results of all COVID-19 tests.
The state's coronavirus dashboard on Thursday reported 1,399 more confirmed COVID-19 cases and 12 more deaths, increasing the state's totals to 266,562 cases and 6,240 deaths.
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.
In other developments,
— Arizona's seven-day rolling averages for daily new COVID-19 cases, daily deaths and testing positivity continued to increase over the last two weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and The COVID Tracking Project.
The average of newly confirmed daily cases went from 1,036 on Oct. 28 to 2,076 on Wednesday while the daily deaths average rose from 7.3 to 24.1 and the positivity average rose from 9.8% to 15.1%.
— Organizers of the Tucson's annual rodeo on Thursday announced the cancellation of the 2021 event, which is formally known as La Fiesta de los Vaqueros.
The rodeo normally held every February is the latest of dozens of events that have been canceled in the southern Arizona city because of the pandemic Other cancellations have included the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show and the Winterhaven Festival of Lights.
The decision was made “as we have learned more about the medical realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and the logistical realities of social distancing within the context of our rodeo,” rodeo officials said in a statement.
Officials said they will focus on the 2022 event.
— The Flagstaff Unified School District board has voted to continue online learning through at least Jan. 5, two days after the two-week holiday break, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.
Superintendent Michael Penca said continuing online learning into January will help the district avoid the increased spread of the coronavirus during upcoming holiday gatherings.
— Tempe officials, citing the continued rise in COVID-19 cases, has postponed the planned start of the use of a downtown park as an outdoor eating area allowing consumption of wine and beer during some hours.
“Right now, we have to do what we can to help curb the impacts of COVID-19 to ensure the health of our community,” Mayor Corey Woods said in a statement.
For most people, the 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. The vast majority of people recover.