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Maricopa man is Arizona's 1st coronavirus death

A Maricopa County man in his 50s has died of coronavirus, officials announced Friday night. He was among 79 diagnosed cases in the state, and is the first death to be announced here.

The man had "underlying health conditions," state officials said.

County health authorities are "in the process of notifying close contacts of this person and will be asking them to monitor for symptoms."

Arizona Department of Health Services officials didn't provide any other details about the man or his coronavirus case.

The man was an employee of the Phoenix Aviation Department, City Manager Ed Zuercher said in a letter sent to Phoenix city workers.

"While every effort is made in normal situations to protect the privacy of our employees, we made the decision to inform all of you about this death because of the health emergency our world is facing," he wrote. "We will not discuss the name of the employee or any other details."

The man who died was a staffer in a remote office who had minimal public interaction at the airport's terminals, Zuercher wrote.

"We express our deepest sympathy to the family and friends grieving their loved one during this difficult time," said Dr. Cara Christ, ADHS director.

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"COVID-19 is a serious disease that can be fatal in anyone, especially our elderly population and people with underlying health conditions," she said. "We expect to see more cases of COVID-19 in Arizona, and there could be more deaths. It is imperative that everyone takes precautions to protect you and your family from this disease."

The best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, 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 the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

COVID-19 spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms are thought to appear within two to 14 days after exposure and consist of fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. For people with mild illness, individuals are asked to stay home, drink plenty of fluids and get rest. For people with more severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath, individuals are advised to seek healthcare.

79 diagnosed in Az; Navajo community quarantined, 1st cases in Cochise, Santa Cruz & Yuma counties

Seventy-nine Arizonans have now tested positive for COVID-19 as the pandemic continues Friday. Eight Pima County residents have been diagnosed, and the first cases have been found in Santa Cruz and Cochise counties.

A new case was confirmed in Pima County on Friday morning, bringing the total here to 8. Officials said the new case is a woman in her 60s who is isolating and is not in the hospital.

Cochise County reported its first positive test result on Friday afternoon.

Confirming that an adult female had been diagnosed with COVID-19, Cochise Health & Social Services officials said that "following domestic travel, she is self-isolating, managing her symptoms at home and is recovering from the illness."

A case was also diagnosed in Santa Cruz County, and one in Yuma County was announced Friday, the first in each county.

Another 14 patients live on the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona, and have not been included in the daily tallies released by the Arizona Department of Health Services. A small community on the reservation has been placed under quarantine, deemed a "hot spot" in the outbreak.

Two COVID-19 patients who had been hospitalized in Tucson have been released, Pima County Health Department officials said. They would not provide details on which of the earlier patients were cleared to leave the hospital.

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Navajo officials said the majority of the cases on the reservation, which extends across state lines into New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, involve patients who reported their symptoms to the clinic in Kayenta, Ariz., with others treated in Chinle, Ariz., and Shiprock, N.M.

The Diné community of Chilchinbeto, Ariz., just south of Kayenta, has been quarantined after at least 7 cases were diagnosed there, Navajo officials said. Residents have been instructed to self-quarantine, with anyone with symptoms told to self-isolate.

The number of known cases grew overnight, up from 44, as more tests are being run after weeks of limited access. There are now 63 total cases diagnosed in the state, with officials expecting many more to be found.

Just 343 people have been tested by the Arizona Public Health Laboratory, while private labs coming online are not reporting the total number of tests to state officials. Thursday, the state lab reported having tested 331 since the beginning of the outbreak. Prior to Tuesday, the state lab had tested 221 patients suspected of carrying the virus. The state lab has now ruled out 221 people with negative tests.

Statewide, there have been 44 positive results, with 101 pending tests at the state lab, as of Tuesday morning.

Sunday, just 183 people had been tested, with 12 positive cases and 50 pending tests.

One of the Pima County cases is a patient at the Tucson VA hospital, who was diagnosed on March 14 and is still be treated in isolation by the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System.

Each of the Pima County patients has been older than 50, with no link identified between them, officials said.

Friday's case is:

  • A female in her 60s who is isolating and not hospitalized

The two local cases announced Thursday were:

  • A female in her 50s who is hospitalized
  • A male in his 50s who is isolating and not hospitalized

The earlier cases were:

  • A male in his 80s who has recovered
  • A male in his 50s who is hospitalized
  • A male in his 70s who is hospitalized
  • A male in his 60s who is hospitalized
  • A female in her 60s who is isolating and not hospitalized
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