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Arizona Health Officials Outline Coronavirus Response Amid Increased Cases Nationwide

At a news briefing Monday, Arizona health officials and Governor Doug Ducey outlined preparedness efforts against the coronavirus outbreak as more U.S. cases are confirmed. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara Christ says the state is now able to conduct its own tests for COVID-19, and no longer has to send samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This will shrink testing time to about 24 hours and help officials respond to further outbreaks.

Christ says the CDC recently expanded testing recommendations to include less severe cases, which could increase the number of known infections.

"We expect we will have additional cases in Arizona. But we want to assure you, this is typical disease surveillance. The more we’re looking for cases the more we’re going to find. An increase in the number of cases does not necessarily mean the disease is more severe," she says.

Christ says the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Arizona is relatively low. The state has had only one confirmed case of the disease in a person who traveled to Wuhan, China where it originated. The patient has recovered, and the Department of Health Services says one more possible case is pending.

Officials urge Arizonans to take precautions similar to how they’d prevent the flu like frequent hand washing, avoiding touching the face and staying home when sick.

For more information on COVID-19 in Arizona, see the Arizona Department of Health Services website.

3/3/20 Update: The Arizona Department of Health Services says a second coronavirus case has been detected in the state. The man in his 20s from the Phoenix area came into contact with a coronavirus patient outside of Arizona and is recovering at home in stable condition.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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