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2nd Arizona coronavirus case is Phx-area man 'recovering at home'

A second Arizona resident has been "presumptively" diagnosed with COVID-19, with the case being sent to the CDC for confirmation, health officials said. The 20-year-old Maricopa County man "is not hospitalized and is recovering at home."

"This individual is a known contact of a presumed positive case outside of Arizona who had traveled to an area with community spread of COVID-19," state health department officials said.

"The good news is that this individual is in stable condition and is expected to have a full recovery, as are most people who become infected with this disease," said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director of disease control for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

The State Public Health Lab began testing for COVID-19 on Monday and was able to detect this positive case on its first day of testing, the same day that Maricopa County Department of Public Health officials asked that this individual be tested.

The first case of coronavirus in Arizona was determined in late January. That patient, described by officials as a "member of the Arizona State University community," has recovered and is no longer infected with the disease.

As of Tuesday morning, 32 people in Arizona have been tested for COVID-19 — the novel coronavirus that was first diagnosed in people late last year — with the single confirmed positive case in January, and this new "presumptive positive" case the only cases in the state. Another six tests were pending results, and 24 people have been ruled out, officials said.

“We know the disease is spreading and we can expect additional cases in Arizona,” Dr. Cara Christ, ADHS director, told reporters on Monday.

The virus has caused the deaths of six people in the United States, with more than 3,000 deaths worldwide.

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After receiving the presumptive positive results, Maricopa County staff interviewed close contacts of the infected patient and recommended that they monitor for symptoms and quarantine themselves for 14 days based on the risk of exposure.

"As far as risk to the public, we are still doing the case investigation of this individual, however, because we know when and where this individual was exposed, this does not represent community spread," Sunenshine said.

COVID-19 is believed to spread mostly through respiratory droplets produced when a sick person coughs or sneezes. Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The best way to prevent COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases is to:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water is not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Increased testing for coronavirus – Arizona officials can nwo check up to 450 samples daily – could reveal more diagnoses, Christ said Monday. But that is to be expected, she cautioned, and doesn’t necessarily mean coronavirus is worsening. Also, several samples can come from one person.

In response to a question about preparation on Monday, Christ and Ducey said they are not stockpiling food or water. Christ also advised against buying masks but urged people to take safety precautions by washing hands for at least 20 seconds, coughing into tissues and staying home from work or school if sick. The elderly and people with medical conditions are most at risk from the respiratory disease, with symptoms that mimic influenza and are spread person-to-person.

Still, she said, the fact the disease is spreading beyond those who had been exposed during travel to high-risk areas, particularly China, shows the need to remain alert. Arizona public health officials are working with K-12 schools, universities, health facilities and others to protect the public.

Christ urged businesses to create backup plans, such as coming up with an alternate list of suppliers and determining how they will operate with a reduced workforce or without key employees.

Officials understand that reports of the disease soaring across the globe “can cause fear and anxiety about how we can keep ourselves and our loved ones safe,” said Christ, who has three children.

Until recently, all samples for coronavirus had to be sent to the Centers for Disease Control for testing. Arizona is one of about a dozen states and cities that can test for coronavirus. The Department of Health Services had previously sent 26 potential  cases to federal  health officials for tests. One sample tested positive, 24 were cleared and one is waiting on lab results.

The spread of COVID-19 has led to the U.S. instituting travel bans, advisories and new policies for entry into the country and international travel. The U.S. has banned entry into the U.S. by foreign nationals who have traveled to China or Iran, and travel advisories have been issued for parts of Italy and South Korea.

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Cronkite News reporter Dzevida Sadikovic contributed to this report.

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