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Arizona coronavirus cases exceed 2,000 as deaths top 50

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A sign warning against COVID-19 is seen in front of a closed restaurant Friday, March 27, 2020, in Phoenix. Arizona is ramping up its unemployment insurance operations as it sees an unprecedented flood of new claims as the COVID-19 coronavirus staggers industries that are key to the state's economy. Arizona's food service industry employs about 230,000 people and an estimated 80% have been furloughed or laid off. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona now has over 2,000 cases of the new coronavirus and the state’s death toll from the disease has topped 50, state health officials reported Saturday.

The Department of Health Services reported 2,019 cases statewide with 52 death as of Saturday morning, up from 1,769 cases and 41 deaths as of Friday.

Also Saturday, Gov. Doug Ducey announced that Arizona has an agreement with Honeywell to produce over 6 million N95 face masks for the state over the next 12 months and that the Department of Health Services would deliver them to counties for distribution to health, safety and emergency response workers.

All 15 of Arizona counties have diagnosed coronavirus cases but over half of the state’s cases and deaths were in Maricopa County, which includes most of metro Phoenix.

Maricopa County health officials reported 1,173 cases — 58% of the statewide total — and 28 deaths, 54% of the statewide fatalities. The state listed two fewer cases in Maricopa County.

Arizona reported its first diagnosed case, a man in Maricopa County who had returned from travel to Wuhan, China, on Jan. 26. The second case wasn’t reported until March 2, also in Maricopa County.

Arizona reported its first coronavirus death, also in Maricopa County, on March 20.

Other Arizona counties with the most cases as of Saturday morning included Pima (326), Navajo (177,) Coconino (147) , Pinal (89) and Yavapai (43), as reported by the state Department of Health Services.

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.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Honeywell announced March 30 that it was adding manufacturing capabilities at its Phoenix campus to produce N95 masks in support of the federal government’s response to the outbreak.

“I’m grateful to Honeywell for stepping up and partnering with Arizona to help get these masks to our doctors, nurses and EMTs on the front lines,” Ducey said in a statement.

Honeywell said it anticipates the mass production of masks will create 500 jobs and that the company has begun recruiting, hiring and training manufacturing workers at its Phoenix site.

Honeywell’s announcement said some masks produced in Phoenix would go to the federal government for the national stockpile but that the company also would have capacity to produce masks for states and other American healthcare and emergency response organizations.

Honeywell said its Phoenix operation would continue to produce aircraft engines and auxiliary power units.

In other Arizona coronavirus developments:

— The state Department of Corrections will now allow its officers to wear non-medical masks at work in prisons, the Arizona Republic reported, citing guidance issued by Corrections Director David Shinn. A corrections lieutenant earlier filed a whistleblower complaint saying officers were barred from wearing protective equipment because Shinn believed it would scare inmates.

New guidelines issued Friday by federal officials recommend that Americans wear face coverings when in public.

— Northern Arizona University President Rita Cheng on announced that the university was offering 25% on housing and dining charges to students who chose to move out of university housing by April 16 because of the outbreak, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.

— Pima County has seen a spike in distress calls from hikers apparently due to an increase in trail use by inexperienced hikers because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Arizona Daily Star reported. Deputy James Allerton said search and rescue deputies answered 17 distress calls from hikers in the past two weeks, up from the half-dozen they’d normally expect.

Arizona Coronavirus / Arizona News / Coronavirus

The Associated Press

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