Santa Cruz County has confirmed an average of two COVID-19 deaths and five hospitalizations per day so far in 2021, according to data posted Thursday by the County Health Services Department.

The numbers show 128 confirmed deaths of local residents since the start of the pandemic, with 31 of those deaths reported during the first 14 days of January.

The state as a whole has seen a surge in coronavirus-related deaths during the same period, and the 335 deaths reported in Arizona on Tuesday established a new one-day record. The date a death is officially reported does not necessarily correspond with the day that it occurred, and state health officials say that a significant number of recently reported deaths have come after a periodic review of death certificates.

Of the 128 COVID-19 deaths in Santa Cruz County confirmed as of Thursday, 97 were among people 65 or older. That’s 75 percent of the total deaths, despite the fact that only 14 percent of the county’s confirmed coronavirus infections have been in the 65-and-up population group.

There had been a total of 6,845 confirmed cases in Santa Cruz County as of Thursday, an increase of 435 infections during the previous week.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Arizona’s daily new-case average of 134.7 cases per 100,000 people during the previous week was worst in the nation as of Thursday. In Santa Cruz County, the number was 133.6 daily cases per 100,000 residents during the week leading up to Thursday.

Arizona’s weekly rate of COVID-19 deaths per day was also worst in the nation on Thursday, at 2.3 per 100,000. In Santa Cruz County, where the Census-estimated population is 46,498 and the number of new deaths in the week leading up to Thursday was 15, the average daily death rate per 100,000 inhabitants was 4.6.

The number of hospitalizations of local residents for COVID-19 has also spiked of late, reaching 469 on Thursday. That marked 70 new hospitalizations reported during the first two weeks of the year – an average of five per day.

Data published Thursday by the Arizona Department of Health Services showed that 27.9 percent of Santa Cruz County residents who were tested for COVID-19 during the week of Dec. 27-Jan. 2 received a positive result. That was the most recent period for which positivity rates were available.

The local positivity rate increased that week from 26.7 percent during the previous seven days. At the state level, the rate of positive test results jumped from 19.6 percent to 24.4 percent during the Dec. 27-Jan. 2 period.

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