By March 27, 2020

Why There’s No COVID-19 Case Tally for Anthem or Phoenix

COVID-19 cases in Arizona as of March 27, 2020. Source: ADHS

By Robert Roy Britt — Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 rose to 399 in Maricopa County today, March 27, and 665 statewide with 13 deaths. The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) yesterday declared there is “widespread community transmission” of the disease. As numbers rise, local residents may wonder how many people are infected right here in Anthem or the North Phoenix area. That information is not being distributed, according to county and state health officials.

“Public Health does not report this data at the city level,” Fields Moseley, director of communications for Maricopa County, told North Phoenix News and In&Out Magazine. “That is not an effective way to track and respond to disease when there is community spread. It can give a false sense of safety or a false sense danger. Everyone should assume they can come in contact with COVID-19 at this time and take precautions as outlined by ADHS.”

“Given widespread transmission, all Arizonans should expect that COVID-19 is circulating in their community,” said ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ. 

How Tests & Results are Handled

Mosely outlined how test results are handled: 

“If a person tests positive for COVID-19, they will be contacted by Maricopa County Department of Public Health,” he said. “They will be advised to take precautions to lower the spread of disease, including reaching out to potential contacts. In some cases they might meet with an investigator. While Public Health must protect their private information (because of federal and state law) some people choose to self-report to their community.”

Individual hospitals follow guidelines from the CDC and Arizona Department of Health Services to determine who gets tested. “Those results are reported to the state and county,” Moseley said. “Maricopa County Department of Public Health does not report results by hospital or community.”

One case of COVID-19 was reported to and then announced by the Anthem Golf & Country Club. The man, who was not identified, was said to be recovering.

Don’t Walk In

HonorHealth is among the facilities capable of testing for COVID-19. In a statement, the company advised people who think they might have COVID-19 not to walk in to any healthcare facility. “If you have the following symptoms—fever over 100.4, cough, shortness of breath—please call the nurse line at 480-587-6200, so that we can direct you to the most appropriate place for care,” the company stated. It can take up to five days for test results to be returned.

“At this time, COVID-19 testing capabilities are continuing to expand across the state,” said ADHS spokesperson Caroline Oppleman. “Physicians can order lab tests for patients who meet certain criteria, which can be found on our website. “County public health departments typically announce new cases to the public as they get lab results,” Oppleman told North Phoenix News and In&Out Magazine. “Counties also report these cases to ADHS and they are reflected in the statewide case count available on azhealth.gov the following day at 9 a.m.”

Stop the Spread

“COVID-19 is a serious disease that is highly contagious and can be fatal in anyone, especially our elderly population and people with underlying health conditions,” Christ said. “Protecting those at highest risk of complications and ensuring that our healthcare system is prepared to deal with a surge in cases is our highest priority. It is imperative that everyone takes precautions to protect themselves and their family from this disease.”

The best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to the ADHS:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Bookmark our Local Coronavirus News page for ongoing coverage.

This article first published on North Phoenix News.

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