ADHS Confirms 3rd Coronavirus Case In Arizona

By Scott Bourque, Kathy Ritchie
Published: Friday, March 6, 2020 - 10:28am
Updated: Friday, March 6, 2020 - 4:18pm

Officials from the Arizona Department of Health Services have confirmed the state's third case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The patient is a woman in her 40s who is currently hospitalized. This case marks the first instance of “community spread.” 

The health care worker is in stable condition and recovering in a Maricopa County hospital. Dr. Cara Christ is the head of the Arizona Department of Health Services says at this time, they don’t know the source of the infection, meaning they can’t link it to travel or another person who has had the disease.

Christ says the woman was tested after being admitted to the emergency room with symptoms several days ago.

"The CDC broadened the case definition on who could be tested and one of those were individuals who were hospitalized with respiratory symptoms, who had a negative influenza or negative viral respiratory panel," Christ said. 

Christ said there likely will be more cases of coronavirus. She also expects to see additional community acquired cases.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is rapidly evolving and based on events in other states, we expect additional cases and community spread in Arizona,” Christ said in a statement. “Keeping Arizonans safe and healthy is our No. 1 priority, and we are confident the public health system in Arizona is well prepared to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

ADHS encourages anybody who has traveled to an area where COVID-19 is known to be spreading and has developed symptoms within 14 days of their travel to contact their doctor or call a local emergency room for instructions.

So far, Washington state, California and Maryland have declared states of emergency over the virus. Maricopa County Disease Control Director Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine says health officials are monitoring levels of critical supplies and advising the governor.  

“Resource limitations that are in the community tend to be in the healthcare system," she said. "So we’re in constant contact with our healthcare systems making sure that they have enough personal protective equipment, and that they have enough staff, and we’re communicating that with the state public health department who is in communication with the governor.”

Christ says COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes. They don’t survive in the air for more than a few minutes, but those droplets can remain on surfaces for several hours — or days. 

"Which then has to be touched by another person, then gotten onto their face, their hands, their nose, their mouth," Christ said. "Which is why we always advise people not to touch their face and to wash their hands frequently." 

Christ and other public health officials would not disclose where COVID-19 patient — a Pinal County woman in her 40s — has been, because the risk of transmitting the virus through the air is minimal, unlike other diseases, such as measles. 

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