Arizona COVID-19 Testing Blitz: 60,000 Tests In 3 Weeks

By Scott Bourque
Published: Sunday, May 3, 2020 - 3:47pm
Updated: Sunday, May 3, 2020 - 9:18pm

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Arizona ranks 51st in coronavirus tests administered per 1,000 people. And in order for businesses to safely reopen, that number needs to improve.

Arizona’s COVID-19 testing blitz began Saturday as state public health officials try to test 60,000 Arizonans over the next few weeks. Tests will be available on the next two Saturdays.

People could get tests at more than 30 different testing sites in six different counties — though the requirements for receiving a test were different at each site. 

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ says the state is heading in the right direction — and these tests bring it closer to achieving the widespread testing necessary to reopen the economy.

“We have recently been notified by our partners that they have more capacity, that they have the testing supplies that they needed, and they really wanted to increase the capacity," Christ said. "And we know that getting more people tested is important for us to be able to determine what COVID looks like in our communities, so we worked with the partners to set this day up.”

ADHS reports about 81,000 tests conducted statewide, with an overall positive rate of about 9%. The Kaiser Family Foundation, which ranks U.S. states and territories in terms of tests per thousand people, puts Arizona near the bottom, with 10.7 tests per 1,000 people — well below the national average of 20.8 tests per 1,000.

The testing increase comes as hospital admissions and ventilator capacity appear much lower than public health experts had originally feared. Christ says the state is on the right track in terms of hospital capacity and disease control.

"There are a couple of things that we are gauging," Christ said. "The first is obviously the number of cases and the number of deaths and what the prevalence of the disease in our community is. We feel confident right now about where we are with our health care capacity, and we also have plans that can scale up if it’s needed. So we’re in a much better place than we were two months ago."

Those who want to receive a coronavirus test during the state's testing blitz can choose from a growing list of locations statewide — each with slightly different requirements and testing methods.

"Some of the sites are offering drive-up opportunities, some of the sites are offering self-swabbing opportunities, and then there are a couple of walk-ins as well," Christ said.

The cost and requirements for testing depend on the site and the organization providing the test — some are free, some cost money, and some are covered by insurance.

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