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Coconino County Attributes COVID Case Spike To New Counting Method

Ross D. Franklin/AP file

Coconino County reported a one-day jump of 105 new known cases of COVID-19 Monday. It’s a major increase, but health officials say a change in how they record infections accounts for the rise. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

County officials say they’re now merging confirmed and probable infections, including results from rapid antigen tests of people who may not have symptoms. New case totals previously included only confirmed positives. The rapid tests allow health agencies to respond faster to infections.

Officials hope the new counting standard will make data reporting clearer. The method from the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists has become more broadly accepted throughout the country and the Arizona Department of Health Services began using it last week.

"It is very important to capture those positive COVID-19 cases within our numbers and report out both confirmed combined with probable cases as they do now both represent active infection," says Coconino County Chief Epidemiologist  Matt Maurer.

A bulk of the new infections reported Monday in the county spanned the last two weeks, and officials say about 10 were actually confirmed that day.

Still, new cases in Coconino County had already been on the rise with a nearly 75% jump two weeks ago a 60% increase last week.

Northern Arizona University officials said Friday they were managing 273 cases on and off campus. It’s nearly three times the number they’d reported one week before. NAU says it’s conducted more than 4,800 COVID tests since the beginning of the month.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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