Arizona reports 28 new virus deaths; case count nears 18,500

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona health officials report 28 additional coronavirus deaths and 702 additional cases, putting the number of people confirmed infected with COVID-19 over 18,000.

The Department of Health Services reported a total of 18,465 confirmed cases with 885 deaths as of Friday.

Hospitalizations are steadily climbing and now top 900, with 40 percent of those patients in intensive care. Hospitalizations hovered around 700 people a month ago.

Gov. Doug Ducey announced Thursday that schools can reopen after summer break and youth sports can resume immediately.

Ducey said Arizona’s health care system can care for any virus patients and has enough hospital beds and ventilators available.

State schools Superintendent Kathy Hoffman on Monday will release social distancing guidelines for schools to use.

Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said schools are making plans to reduce class sizes, create disinfectant protocols and be flexible with people who have health problems putting them at higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19.

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