There had been 97 confirmed COVID-19 infections among residents of Santa Cruz County as of 5 p.m. Monday, according to data posted by the County Health Services Department.

Of the total number of infected people, 46 had recovered, meaning there were 51 active infections among local residents as of Monday evening. There were no reported deaths involving county residents.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county has been growing rapidly in the past two weeks, from 34 on May 4, to 54 on May 11, to 97 today.

The County Health Services Department began the day Monday with a count of 84 infections, then added 13 more to that number when it updated its website tally at 5 p.m.

The recent jump in local cases comes as Arizona's leaders have lifted restrictions in an effort to re-start the state's economy. 

Starting May 8, Gov. Doug Ducey began allowing businesses and services that he had previously ordered to close – such as restaurant dining areas, salons, barbershops, gyms, fitness centers and retailers selling “non-essential” products – to re-open, as long as they implemented measures to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Then he allowed the stay-at-home order he imposed starting March 31 to expire at midnight last Friday.

Part of the rationale for lifting the restrictions is that testing capability has increased. However, Arizona has regularly ranked 50th in the nation in per-capita testing, and Santa Cruz County has ranked last in Arizona.

Data posted to the Arizona Department of Health Services website provides more detailed information about infections and testing in the state and its 15 counties. However, that site is updated only once a day, and even then it tends to lag the county’s individual reporting by more than a day.

For example, the ADHS website showed only 78 confirmed infections in Santa Cruz County on Monday. It also reported that 577 local residents had been tested for COVID-19 with definitive results, up from 415 a week earlier.

As of Monday, 10.9 percent of the county residents who had been tested for COVID-19 had tested positive, up from 9.7 percent last Thursday. That was the fourth-highest positive test rate among the state’s 15 counties, better than only Apache, Navajo and Coconino, three northern counties whose Native American communities have been particularly ravaged by the disease.

In Nogales, Sonora, there were a total of 107 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of 8:30 p.m. Sunday, according to the state health secretary, up from 50 a week earlier. The number of confirmed coronavirus deaths in the city was five, unchanged from a week earlier.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in a community is unlikely to represent the true number of infections, since many people who are infected show no or mild symptoms, and relatively few people are tested for it. Those who are asymptomatic can still transmit the disease, which is why public health officials are urging social distancing even in areas where there are low numbers of confirmed cases.

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