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WATCH NOW: Gov. Doug Ducey's latest press conference for COVID-19 (07/09)
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WATCH NOW: Gov. Doug Ducey's latest press conference for COVID-19 (07/09)

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Gov. Doug Ducey is holding another weekly press conference at 3 p.m. on Thursday to give updates on the state of Arizona's response to the coronavirus and what changes might look like going forward, as cases continue to surge in the state.

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak topped 2,000 on Thursday as state health officials reported new highs for COVID-19 hospitalizations and use of ventilators.

The Department of Health Services reported 75 additional deaths, increasing state’s total to 2,038. The additional 4,057 confirmed cases reported Thursday brought the total to 112,671.

Arizona has emerged as a national hotspot since Republican Gov. Doug Ducey loosened stay-home restrictions in mid-May.

The state had a record 3,437 patients hospitalized as of Wednesday, with a record 575 of those on ventilators. The 861 patients in ICU beds and the number of 1,980 emergency room visits for the disease were just short of records set this week, according to Department of Health Services figures.

Meanwhile, the department has waived more than a dozen hospital regulations, approving a request by a state healthcare organization to increase flexibility during the coronavirus pandemic.

It approved 16 of the 35 waiver requests on Tuesday after Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association President Ann-Marie Alameddin sent a letter July 1 requesting increased flexibility for hospitals.

Requirements that were waived include rules that hospitals must post patient rights language and give patients or their representatives written rights statements upon admission; that patients have a right to privacy when communicating with staff; and that hospitals prohibit seclusion of patients except in emergencies or in behavioral health settings.

“This is to provide optimal patient care and sometimes regulations get in the way of doing that,” Alameddin told the Arizona Republic, adding that it is for legal reasons and is not intended to diminish provided care.

Hospitals also asked to waive a requirement that hospital administrators ensure a patient is not subject to abuse or neglect because “hard choices must be made to save patients,” the hospitals say they do not want those choices to provide grounds to allege a patient has been abused or neglected.

The association also requested that requirements that patients not be discriminated against based on race, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, marital status or diagnosis also be waived.

The state did not approve either request.

Department Director Cara Christ told the association that she would schedule a call with the association and her licensing team to learn about the specific needs identified by the hospitals with the remaining waiver requests.

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