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Health chief: expect thousands of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona

Arizona can expect to have thousands, if not tens of thousands, of confirmed cases of COVID-19 this year, the state’s top health official said Monday.

“And that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Cara Christ said at a press briefing Monday afternoon.

She said that, just like the flu, there are going to be people with mild symptoms who will not seek medical care — and not be tested for the virus.

“So we know there’s a lot more people who don’t seek healthcare with respiratory symptoms and are still in the community,” Christ said.

And they are still potentially contagious.

Cara Christ

Cara Christ

Christ said her latest analysis that Arizona has a “heightened” risk of the new virus spreading here came after at least one of the state’s cases ended up being traced to “community spread.” That means the patient had no known travel to a country where he or she could have been exposed nor had been in contact with someone else with the virus.

The message with that risk level − and the chances of getting it − is simple.

“I think now that it’s in the community, that’s much more of a possibility than when it was just with those individuals that had traveled from Wuhan or from China,” Christ said. What that means, she said, is “act like everyone has it.”

But even with that, Christ is saying that her current advice is that the only people who should take special precautions are those who are elderly and have underlying health conditions, especially respiratory.

Still, there are special circumstances.

For example, Christ said she would advise her own mother and grandmother not to take a plane trip, particularly a long one, unless it was absolutely necessary. Part of that, she said, is the “close quarters” and the chance of ending up next to someone who is sick.

Still, Christ said, plane travel is probably a lot less risky than a cruise. In that case, it’s not only a question of close contact but things like sharing dining facilities and even touching the same utensils.

“A lot of the same facilities are being used for days on end,” she said.

As to those who are at risk, she had a special message.

“We encourage them to have supplies on hand, such as extra prescription medication, over-the-counter medications, and supplies like tissues and other household items and groceries,” Christ said. “Take everyday precautions, such as avoiding people who are sick, washing your hands often, and cleaning and disinfecting high-touch areas like your doorknobs, light switches, toilets, faucets and phones.”

And there’s something else.

“Stay away from crowds, if possible,” she said. “And have a plan if you get sick to call your health care provider and identify who else can care for you if your caregiver becomes ill.”

Gov. Doug Ducey, who also was at Monday’s briefing, said he was not concerned about reports of certain kinds of items like cleaning supplies being snapped up, leaving some store shelves bare.

“I’m confident that these items that are in the consumer market will be replenished and people should have the appropriate items in stock at home,” the governor said.

Christ said there are no plans to ask organizations to cancel events designed to attract crowds, like the Democratic presidential debate in Phoenix on Sunday, saying that decision is up to individual event planners.

The health chief also announced new protocols for nursing homes and similar facilities, including screening visitors and, to the extent possible, convincing them to stay away. Still, she acknowledged, that presents different problems.

“We understand long-term care facilities are people’s homes,” Christ said. And those living there need not only their physical needs attended to but also their mental health.

She said if a resident gets sick, these facilities should be prepared with everything from having masks and gowns immediately available outside the person’s room to ensuring that the staffers taking care of patients diagnosed with the virus are also not caring for others in the facility.

26 comments

  1. Why in the heck haven’t we started testing more people then? How can we quarantine those who have it if we don’t know they have it? The health dept protocols are crazy, only testing the very ill who are in the hospital with symptoms who have tested negative to everything else. This is crazy. They should be testing for corona first and other illnesses as well. For Gods sake, those of us at the highest risk are in trouble and all anyone seems to care about is money. The cdc, WHO are all recommending canceling large events, social distancing, etc… but not Arizona. Come on Ducey, wake up and do what you can to protect your most vulnerable people.

  2. Is this woman crazy? Does she not know that her words will inspire a panic? Her warnings are Apocalyptic! This will incite chaos. What was the Governor thinking to let a narrative like this out. “Treat everyone as if they have it?” What’s next? Digging mass graves?

  3. If you want to be informed, the website to trust is the official one. Coronavirus dot gov.

  4. I agree ! This article is definitely going to cause an all out panic ! It’s common sense things like hand washing and staying away from sick people , and cruise ships etc . This kind of article is not helpful at all ! Not only that, it’s way blown out of proportion considering the updates I get from actual health organizations .

  5. It’s hard to deal with the actuality of this situation. Most of us ‘will’ get this; hard scientific facts, and experience indicate the reality of it. Similar to the current form of notification in Washington, Politicians say one thing, science backed information from professionals is another. Correct information has to be given to elucidate reality. The choice of which reality to believe is up to the individual, there is no choice if information is withheld. Fact Based Information must be available, so good decisions can be made. Especially since the testing needed to actually get ahead of the spread is not in the hands of professionals who should have enough to identify ‘who and where’, to stop the spread. Since lack of testing supplies is the case, the spread is inevitable and will be well underway by the time test are sufficient to deal with the severity of COVID19.

  6. There’s something going around in the Life Care at Sierra Vista. At least 6 residents are coughing all the time and their rooms are next to each other. Our hospital won’t test them because they can’t verify that they had a fever and the cost is too much. A nurse told me that we have one presumptive positive as of this past weekend here in Sierra Vista, but I haven’t heard anything about it in the news. They aren’t being open with the public. It’s very frustrating!

  7. This article didn’t help clarify anything! Christ & Ducey don’t seem concerned at all while the rest of the states are taking the Coronavirus seriously, cancelling events, & testing people who have been exposed or feel ill.
    People if you need answers, go the the WHO.com site or John Hopkins site.

  8. Terry Christiani

    If you want to ensure that the hospital infrastructure is not overwhelmed with very sick people, do as Cara Christ says. It is not so much that people are going to get sick, it is the ability for the healthcare system to absorb the numbers needing hospitalization. We are looking at a 14 day incubation process and no vaccine. Eventually, everyone is going to get this. Slowing the spread of infection by isolating yourself and taking precautions will help to ensure that your healthcare infrastructure is not totally overwhelmed like in Italy.

  9. The woman is not crazy. Have you not noticed how quickly the numbers of cases and the number of deaths are rising. Italy has closed it borders, New Rochelle, NY has called out the National Guard to seal off parts of the city, Boston and Dublin have cancelled St. Patrick’s Day parades. Bernie and Joe have cancelled campaign events.

    WAKE UP AND FACE REALITY! An infected person can infects others for as long as 14 days before any symptoms appear, and it is 9 times more contagious that the flu. It can kill senior citizens and persons with chronic underlying conditions.

    This is not going away, and it’s getting more seriously widespread everyday. It’s about time those in positions of authority tell the truth. I am reminded of the govt officials at EPA and FEMA at Ground Zero in 2001 telling everyone working there that the air was safe to breathe. How many First Responders have died of cancer and lung disease because they believed those statements.

  10. I don’t understand why they’re not closing schools schools are notorious for breeding grounds for viruses there’s only eight more weeks left in the school year that can be made up in the summer What about children that live with their grandparents they come home with a cold and grandpa or grandma dies

  11. I have severe asthma, and all I see this as a death sentence, and with how there handling it, I guess I just need to accept that 2020 will probably be the last year I am on this earth. I can accept that, but my family can not and there are beyond upset at how this is being handled. The CDC and WHO were supposedly preparing for events like this yet somehow were completely blindsided? Yes it is a new strain, but not a new disease… Why are they dragging there heals on this? Honestly I believe its population control and none of this was an accident at all. Any of you ever heard of Bio Terrorism? Well its one way to prevent overpopulation and prevent future food shortages if there are fewer people to worry about feeding. Panic isn’t the way to respond though. That will help nothing at all. All you can do is try to keep your immune system up and avoid people as much as possible because sadly this woman was right, you need to start acting like anyone could have it or soon we all will. I have made my piece and if I die so be it. Life ends for us all one day.

  12. I went to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in Tucson mid February 2020. God knows how many people had the Coronavirus. People come from all over the World to sell, and people come from all over the world to buy. Had I known it was such an outbreak I would have opted not to go.

  13. Life Care should be testing those 6 sick people!
    Our community deserves transparancy and if there are Wuhan Virus cases here those of us who are compromised should start just staying home.
    If Life Care doesnt test they should be held responsible for not protecting Sierra Vista.

  14. Everybody needs to chillax. This article comes about from someone that needs to look like they are actually doing something. The basis of the numbers used can’t be shown because there is none. They make this stuff up to sound like tgey know something, when all it really does is only serve their own purpose to get into the spotlight.

  15. Curtis G Wilcoxson

    Thank you for being honest and not lying to us like the government keeps on doing, now I can prepare you can buy a year supply of food online and have it in a week and if you people dont start preparing where you and your family are going to hide this out then you better act fast. Good luck and may God be with you.

  16. Because American Leadership Academy let families leave on spring break.. travel, and go see grandma after they had a positive case at the school. No notifications! No additional closures after only a 10 day spring break. Now 2 more cases in pinal county! More to come!

  17. Denver is starting and England has had ongoing drive-thru testing….smart! Less chance of exposure for everyone while insuring testing is done

  18. I stayed in Scottsdale this weekend at a nice resort. In the morning I watched kitchen staff handling steamer lids and utensils (the same that guests had to use) without gloves.

    The toaster had a “community” knife, for splitting bagels and English muffins.

    Tables were being wiped off with a damp rag, without any follow up with a disinfecting wipe or spray.

    There appeared to only be one container of hand sanitizer in the entire place. While sitting in the lobby yesterday morning for a couple hours while the kids slept, not even once did I see the counter cleaned.

    It’s Spring Training time, which means thousands of people have flown in from around the country, and potentially from around the world.

    If they ever get around to testing, I’ll bet you my paycheck that Scottsdale will be a hot zone, perpetuated by resorts and restaurants that haven’t done a single dam thing to protect their customers and community.

  19. I returned from Las Vegas sick with upper respiratory symptoms Feb 19 and went to the doctor Feb 27 still sick and a low grade fever. I was prescribed antibiotics, etc but not tested for Covid-19 because Las Vegas was not yet on the radar. I asked if I was still infectious – told no. Do I have Covid-19 and if so have I shared it with an immune compromised senior in my social group? Who knows? The CDC approach to screening (doctor makes the decision based on severity and estimated exposure) has the potential to allow many infected people who aren’t too sick to be in many public places and social gatherings. This up front $$ and resource saving by limiting testing is folly and short-sighted. China and S Korea have taken the opposite approach – mass testing, drive by sample drop off and every identified Covid-19 case is immediately quarantined – not out panic shopping for toilet paper in a crowded COSTCO. The latest CDC loosening of testing criteria is not enough. A doctor can still decide you are not sick enough yet to test and you will do what you always do with a bad cold..as soon as you feel a little better you’ll be out food shopping, socializing, and coughing out those nasty little droplets the health experts keep talking about.

  20. Down with the king he doesn’t know what to do

  21. The blind leading the blind god help us

  22. I think it is a human trait to look for a place to lay blame. This is a novel virus. Pandemic plans, state by state, are in place. Lots of people seem to be griping about testing. Well, if Dr. Christ is right about treating everyone like they have it, why concern yourself with tests? Isolate as much as you can, be prudent, use proper hygiene. And if severe symptoms arise, call your doctor for instructions on how to get help. This virus skews older, other viruses have skewed younger. It is what it is. In the US we are in the best position ever, the best doctors and labs in the world. The harsh truth is the Chinese Communist Party lied and covered up their epidemic for weeks. But we can pull together and get through this. Treatments are most likely going to be available in 30 days. Time to stop finger pointing within our nation and hunker down. This, too, shall pass.

  23. I want to know what is being done for seniors, who live on very limited incomes. I am 66, disabled and my income is $1400 a month. I have no credit cards and no way to buy groceries or anything ahead. I have pneumonia and can’t get tested for covid 19 in Cochise County–I have been trying since 2/29, when I first became ill. I know there are a lot of people living on less than me. Cash needs to be dispersed to keep people home and, hopefully, safe.

    The Federal Government is finding all kinds of money for small businesses and I expect they will find another tax cut for the big businesses. They are trying to cut the payroll taxes for everyone, not just the people with no paid sick leave, which will be a disaster. And there is no mention of the most vulnerable population–seniors on a fixed income.

  24. After reading everyone of these posts, and the few that made me feel sad and emotional Were the 2 senior posts that was posted from Francine and a heartbreaking post from Nico. I want to say I’m thinking about you to and if you click my name on here u can see my email please email me if or anything you might need or want help with. God Bless
    Also I’m 34 and Nico I read your post and it’s exactly on point the way I looked it!

  25. FUNNY HOW USA CDC WEBSITE SAYS WE IN ARIZONA ARE LOW RISK! DONT WASTE TIME ON PANIC MONGERS. GO TO THE CDC WEBSITE FOR THE TRUTH. 03 14 2020 11;45 PM

  26. Ducey needs to endorse a stay at home order before he has no choice- limit the spread why has that not gone in place?
    All these other governors are just over reacting right??!!
    Do it before it gets out of hand. Overreact now and maybe be wrong later rather then underreact and wish he would have sooner. Second crisis he’s done nothing about. First was the prisons locks that had been a known issue for years. Zero was done about that. Vote this guy out. He takes zero control of any real issue. Get the f out of office and go run something that doesn’t effect the entire community. People count on you and you do zero

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