Arizona reports record increase in new cases ahead of Trump rally

Arizona reported a record one-day increase in new coronavirus cases, just as Donald Trump took the next leg of his election campaign to the Grand Canyon State.

The state’s health department today reported 3,591 people have tested positive for Covid-19, a record one-day increase that took its tally since the pandemic began to 58,179, the 13th highest in the US.

The upward trend has been clear. In the seven days to June 22, Arizona reported an average of just over 2,500 new cases a day, a record rate. That is nearly double what it was a week ago, a 137 per cent increase from a fortnight ago, and about 650 per cent more than 28 days ago, according to Financial Times calculations based on Covid Tracking Project data.

Mr Trump has linked the rise in new cases in many states to increased testing. He told the crowd at his campaign rally in Oklahoma on Saturday he had asked officials to slow the number of coronavirus tests, but has since said he was kidding. Other leaders are now adopting a more cautious view: Florida governor Ron DeSantis last week conceded the surge in new cases in his state was not simply a result of increased testing.  

On this front, Arizona was testing an average of about 12,000 people a day as of Monday, ranking 11th nationally, and compared with nearly 5,000 a month ago. On Tuesday, the state health department said it conducted 21,206 new tests over the past 24 hours, a one-day record.

While the state’s increased testing is encouraging, more concerning is that the per cent positive rate (crudely, new confirmed cases divided by total new tests) is averaging about 21 per cent — three times higher than what it was a month ago, based on Covid Tracking Project data. Arizona’s health department of health reported a rate of 10.5 per cent on Tuesday when including antibody testing.

By comparison, California’s per cent positive rate has averaged between 4.2 per cent and 4.9 per cent for the past month, even as it has boosted testing.

Hospitalisations in Arizona have also picked up. The seven-day average of new hospitalisations as of Monday was just under 78, which is the highest since mid-April. This also represents a nearly 200 per cent increase from a week ago, an 82 per cent increase from a fortnight ago, but a 4,077 per cent rise from a month ago.

Mr Trump is due to appear at a rally in Phoenix, the state capital, later today. On Saturday, he kicked off his re-election campaign in Oklahoma, which has also recently had record one-day increases in new cases, albeit at a much lower level than Arizona.

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