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COVID-19 in Arizona on Oct. 29: Gov. Ducey holds briefing as cases continue to rise in Arizona

There have been 242,480 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 5,918 coronavirus-related deaths reported in Arizona as of Thursday.

PHOENIX — Editor's note: Here's the live blog for Oct. 30.

In an effort to track the changes with the coronavirus outbreak in Arizona, 12 News has started a daily live blog.

Here is the live blog for Thursday, Oct. 29.

Major updates: 

  • There have been 242,480 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 5,918 coronavirus-related deaths reported in Arizona as of Thursday.
  • The state does not record how many people have recovered, but Johns Hopkins University estimates the number of people who have recovered.
  • You can find COVID-19 testing sites here.
  • Scroll down to see how many cases are in each ZIP code and additional information.
  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey held a briefing on COVID-19 on Thursday. 

COVID-19 cases reported in Arizona on Thursday

There have been 242,480 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 5,918 coronavirus-related deaths reported in Arizona, according to the state's latest numbers.

That's an increase from the 241,165 confirmed cases and 5,905 coronavirus-related deaths reported on Wednesday.

A week ago, there were 234,906 cases and 5,859 deaths reported in Arizona.

LEER EN ESPANOL: Coronavirus en Arizona el 29 de octubre: 1,315 casos nuevos y 13 decesos se reportan el jueves

1,315 new cases, 13 new deaths reported Thursday

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 1,315 new cases and 13 new deaths on Thursday.

According to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Associated Press, Arizona’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases rose from 728 per day on Oct. 14 to 1,036 on Wednesday. The average for daily deaths increased from 6 to 7.3 and the positivity average went from 7.2% to 9.8%.

Arizona reached 200,000 coronavirus cases on Aug. 27, 100,000 on July 6 and 50,000 cases on June 21. The state reached 5,000 coronavirus deaths on Aug. 29, 4,000 on Aug. 6, 3,000 deaths on July 23, 2,000 on July 9 and 1,000 on June 5.

Arizona's Rt, pronounced r-naught, was at 1.12 on Tuesday, up from 1.10 on Monday.

The Rt is essentially a mathematical number that shows whether more people are becoming infected or less.

The concern is that any Rt over 1, no matter how small, means the virus may grow exponentially.

RELATED: This is the number that health officials are watching closely in the fight against COVID-19 (And you should too)

There were 5,456 cases reported on the collection date of June 29, the day with the most collected diagnoses so far. That is subject to change.

Health officials said the day with the highest number of reported deaths was July 17, when 100 people died. That is subject to change.

Health officials continued to stress that people should continue social distancing, wearing masks in public, and stay home when possible.

State superintendent didn't recommend changes in classroom guidelines

Arizona Superintendent Kathy Hoffman says her office was not consulted before ADHS changed its guidelines for keeping classrooms open during the pandemic.

It’s a rebuttal to Gov. Doug Ducey who said during an update on Thursday that the changes were made at the request of educators.

“These guidelines were adjusted at the request of public education leaders and in coordination with public health officials,” he said.

While not at the press conference, Hoffman tweeted “The Arizona Department of Education did not request or recommend any changes to the [Arizona Department of Health Services] school benchmarks.”

ADHS changed its school district recommendations to close campuses and switch to remote learning on Monday with little warning.

The guidelines now say if all three county benchmarks – cases per capita, percent positivity and COVID-like illness hospitalizations - are in the “substantial spread” category, it’s recommended that schools stop in-person learning.

Before ADHS revised the recommendations, the guidance was to close if just one of the benchmarks was in the most severe category for two weeks.

Some superintendents say there were caught off guard by the changes and were notified by colleagues.

Hoffman says she has asked ADHS for clarification about the changes for public transparency.

“Schools need clear, consistent guidance on how to use the benchmarks for re-opening safely,” she tweeted.

“While school leaders retain the authority to protect the health and safety of their school communities, the state must provide clear recommendations on when to return to distance learning.”

RELATED: Guidelines for keeping classrooms open during COVID-19 revised by ADHS

Fountain Hills High School to close for 14 days due to COVID-19 exposure

Fountain Hills High School officials said the school will be closed for two weeks due to a "COVID related issue on a campus," according to a letter sent to parents on Wednesday.

"Due to the number (of) students who have been in direct contact with a person who has tested positive, we feel this decision is in the best interest of our students," Principal Kris Alexander said in the letter. 

"All students must quarantine for the next 14 days. All extra curricular activities are also canceled for the next 14 days."

The district said in a letter to parents on Tuesday that an unidentified number of students may have been exposed to COVID-19 during an out-of-district event. 

The letter also said that none of the students who attended the event had shown symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday.

Remote learning will begin Thursday. Students could return to campus Nov. 12.

The Arizona Department of Health Services recently revised its guidance for when school districts should close classrooms. 

If all three county benchmarks – cases per capita, percent positivity and COVID-like illness hospitalizations - are in the “substantial spread” category, it’s recommended that schools stop in-person learning.

RELATED: Arizona health officials change guidance for in-person learning, but school districts unaware

Navajo Nation reports 71 new cases, no new deaths

The Navajo Department of Health reported 71 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and no recent deaths.

The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 11,462, including three delayed reported cases. 

The total number of deaths remains 575 as previously reported on Tuesday. 

Reports indicate that 7,525 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 123,366 COVID-19 tests have been administered. 

Arizona health department sets up hotline to report businesses

The Arizona Department of Health Services has set up two ways for people to report local businesses that are not following COVID-19 guidelines. 

People can report businesses through a hotline or through an online form:

“There’s a role for the public as well: If you believe a business isn’t following these requirements, which were established for the safety of customers, employees, and the broader public, ADHS encourages you to share your concerns so local and state officials can follow up as needed,” AZDHS said in a statement.

RELATED: Arizona’s health department wants you to report businesses that don’t enforce safety requirements

Free masks available for some Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services announced that some Arizonans would be able to get free masks from the state.

The department partnered with Hanes to provide free face masks to Arizona’s most vulnerable populations.

Anyone who is part of a vulnerable population (including, but not limited to, individuals with medical conditions or individuals age 65 or older), a student (or parents on behalf of students), school staff member or who may not be able to purchase one is able to get a free mask.

Each other will provide five washable, reusable cloth face masks, one order per household. 

The department hopes to give out two million cloth face masks. 

Anyone with questions can visit the department's FAQs page or contact Hanes at 1-800-503-6698.

Sign up for the free masks here.

Arizona releases ZIP code locations of coronavirus cases, other data

The Arizona Department of Health Services has released expanded data points regarding coronavirus cases in the state. 

The AZDHS website now features the location of confirmed cases in Arizona by zip code. 

You can see the current ZIP code map here and can find yours by clicking around or searching for your ZIP code in the top right of the map.

More information on coronavirus cases from Thursday

There have been 242,480 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 5,918 coronavirus-related deaths reported in Arizona.

That's an increase from the 241,165 confirmed cases and 5,905 coronavirus-related deaths reported on Wednesday.

There were 1,315 new cases reported on Thursday, an increase from the 1,044 reported on Wednesday.

There were 13 new deaths reported on Thursday, a slight decrease from the 14 reported on Wednesday.

There were 5,456 cases reported on the collection date of June 29, the day with the most collected diagnoses so far. That is subject to change.

Health officials said the day with the highest number of reported deaths was July 17, when 100 people died. That is subject to change.

In total, 15,514 new tests were reported on Thursday, an increase from the 7,462 new tests reported on Wednesday.

There have been a total of 2,063,763 PCR and Serology tests reported to the state as of Thursday. 

9.7% of those tests have been positive as of Thursday, the same since Monday.

Here's a breakdown of the number of cases in each county:

  • Maricopa: 156,736
  • Pima: 28,067
  • Pinal: 11,937
  • Coconino: 5,243
  • Navajo: 6,410
  • Apache: 3,965
  • Mohave: 4,371
  • La Paz: 620
  • Yuma: 13,735
  • Graham: 1,197
  • Cochise: 2,171
  • Santa Cruz: 3,021
  • Yavapai: 2,961
  • Gila: 1,945
  • Greenlee: 101

Click on the links below to find more information from each county's health department: 

COVID-19 is believed to be primarily spread through coughs or sneezes. 

It may be possible for the virus to spread by touching a surface or object with the virus and then a person touching their mouth, nose or eyes, but this is not thought to be the main method of spread, the CDC says. 

You should consult your doctor if you traveled to an area currently affected by COVID-19 and feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing. 

There is no vaccine for the coronavirus, so the best way to prevent COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases is to:

  • Wear face coverings while in public.
  • Practice social distancing while in public.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

You can text FACTS to 602-444-1212 to receive more information on the coronavirus and to ask questions.