Maricopa County reported zero new coronavirus-related deaths for the second day in a row Monday. New virus cases saw a stark decrease from the prior few days, but it is not yet a sign that the county’s recent influx in cases is leveling out or reversing.
The Maricopa County Department of Public Health reported 239 new virus cases Monday, less than half the daily totals of both Saturday, 534, and Sunday, 491. However, the county’s trend of new virus cases is still increasing more than it has in months, with Monday’s seven-day daily average of 459 cases nearly two and half times higher than the figure was 16 days earlier, at 188 cases on Sept. 26.
Monday’s improved case numbers are likely at least partially due to a trend of hospitals logging less data over the weekend. Since late August, cases numbers reported on Mondays are less than half the numbers reported on all other days of the week. Last Monday, Oct. 5, saw only 225 cases reported, but the week’s total cases still finished at a 63% increase over the day prior.
Death numbers have also been lower on Mondays, but the county’s virus death numbers have been trending in the opposite direction of its case numbers in recent weeks. Monday’s seven-day daily average of six deaths is down from an average of 18 deaths a day 19 days earlier on Sept. 23. New virus cases and virus deaths often trend in different directions because deaths are a lagging indicator. Deaths do not reflect the new case numbers recorded on the same day but usually better reflect the new case numbers from two or three weeks ago.
COVD-19 cases peaked in the county in late June and early July, according to county public health data, reaching 3,825 cases in a day on June 29. While today’s numbers still pale in comparison to that surge, the county is experiencing its largest increase in cases since the surge. The county’s seven-day daily average of new cases was 195 on Friday, Sept. 11 and increased to 386 by Monday, Oct. 5, the most recent day of complete data. That trend is likely only to worsen when more days of data become complete as preliminary case numbers reported in local days have averaged higher than 386 cases a day.
The county’s surge in coronavirus-related deaths has lagged a couple weeks after the surge in cases, as is typical with COVID-19 reporting. The county’s worst single-day death total was 69 on July 16. Daily death totals have recently declined to the level they were at before the county’s surge. In the most recent day of complete data, Friday, Sept. 25, the seven-day daily average was eight deaths a day. The seven-day death average has remained below 10 for 22 days, the first time since early June.