The Latest: Arizona COVID-19 cases down despite high rate

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Funeral home workers carry the coffin of Pedro Miguel Infante Vilchez, 80, who died from COVID-19, to the "Martires 19 de Julio" cemetery in Comas, on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

PHOENIX -- Health officials say the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Arizona are declining despite the state having the worst infection rate in the country.

Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said Friday that the number of patients and even the positivity test rate have dipped slightly in the last few weeks.

It was the one bright spot of news as Arizona reached a grim milestone with a pandemic death toll of more than 12,000.

That puts COVID-19 on track to eclipse heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death in the state.

The Department of Health Services on Friday reported 8,099 additional known cases and 229 additional deaths, increasing the state’s pandemic totals to 708,041 cases and 12,001 deaths. One person in every 141 Arizona residents was diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past week.

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