Dr. Cara Crist speaks at a press conference about Coronavirus in Phoenix on Monday, March 16, 2020.
This afternoon, Gov. Doug Ducey convened with state health officials and private sector healthcare workers to provide an update on the scope of the COVID-19 virus outbreak in the State of Arizona.
As of 9 a.m. this morning, Arizona has 18 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and zero deaths associated with it.
"There are a lot of questions about getting tested for COVID-19 and I want to provide you with the latest information about testing in Arizona," State Health Director Dr. Cara Crist said at the press conference in Phoenix. "There are now several private laboratories that can test for COVID-19, these labs include LabCorp, Sonora Quest, ARUP, Mayo Clinic and TGen."
Crist said all Coronavirus tests must be ordered by a healthcare provider. They are working with Banner Health to open new test collection sites very soon. More sites and information will be available later this week, and they will notify the public of these developments through their website, azdhs.gov
, with daily updates posted at 9 a.m.
"We know that other healthcare and laboratory partners are in the beginning stages of implementing screening locations," Crist said. "We're working with other sites to continue standing up additional alternate screening locations throughout the state. In order to provide support for this, I have issued a standing order that will allow symptomatic Arizonans to receive screening at these sites, and the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory will also continue to test those high priority samples that are sent from our county public health partners."
As of today, Crist reported that the Arizona State Public Health Lab has tested 200 people. The lab has ruled out 125 people as carriers of the virus and there are 63 test samples still pending.
Of the 18 cases confirmed in Arizona, 12 have been confirmed by the State Public Health Lab and six have been confirmed by private labs.
Crist urged the public to prevent the spread of the virus by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, Crist said to 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 that tissue in the trash, clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces," she said. "If you need to see a healthcare provider, it’s a good option to consider telemedicine."
The Arizona Department of Health Services is partnering with the Arizona Poison Control System to offer a COVID-19 hotline for the public and for medical providers who have questions at 1-844-542-8201.
AZDHS is also looking to expand the state's capacity for ICU patients.
Dr. Marjorie Bessel, the chief clinical officer at Banner Health, said their company has been working with AZDHS to make sure they are providing the most up-to-date and evidence-based guidelines for community safety.
She implored the public to stay home if they feel ill, and said that Banner has set up "daily reminders and electronic checking mechanisms" for their employees, to make sure they are not coming to work ill. This will help them keep their workers healthy so they can continue the fight against Coronavirus.
Additionally, Bessel said people who are showing signs of respiratory illness should call ahead of time before showing up to a hospital or a primary care physician's office, so that healthcare workers can take necessary precautions.
"Mask yourself immediately upon arrival," she said. "Masking yourself helps minimize risk to healthcare workers."