- Associated Press - Monday, July 13, 2020

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona is reporting all-time highs in coronavirus patients using ventilators and occupying beds in intensive-care units.

The state Department of Health Services said 671 COVID-19 patients were on ventilators and 936 were in intensive care as of Sunday. Hospitals were hovering around 90% capacity as the state ranks first in the U.S. for new per capita cases over the past two weeks.

Health officials reported 1,357 new COVID-19 infections and eight additional deaths, for a total of 123,824 confirmed cases and 2,245 deaths. However, the number of cases could be far higher because many people have not been tested and some can be infected without feeling sick.

The state became one of the nation’s coronavirus hot spots in May after Gov. Doug Ducey relaxed stay-at-home orders and other restrictions. Last week, the governor closed gyms and bars and capped restaurants at half of their capacity but declined to shut down indoor dining entirely or issue a statewide mandate on masks, which Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and other officials have urged.

Ducey said the state will increase testing, with a focus on low-income areas of Phoenix as many people report difficulty finding tests.

The state also is paying for a private lab to greatly increase its daily capacity. Most people have been waiting up to a week or more for test results.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.

While the Republican governor has faced blowback for not imposing tougher restrictions, others are opposing the steps he has taken.

A federal judge heard arguments Monday in a fitness chain’s challenge to Ducey’s order shutting down gyms, bars and water parks until at least July 27.

Xponential Fitness, which operates 50 fitness studios in Arizona, said it acted responsibly in following prevention guidelines and hasn’t had any cases tied to its locations. It complained the government hasn’t explained specifically what it needed to do to open again.

Ducey’s office said the governor’s shutdown of gyms was based on advice from medical experts amid a spike in cases in recent weeks.

It’s unknown when Judge Diane Humetewa will issue a ruling.

A week ago, a Maricopa County judge rejected a request from another fitness chain to block enforcement of Ducey’s order, ruling the coronavirus provided a rational basis for the governor to take such emergency action.

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