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Arizona CV-19 cases hit 235; 24 in Pima County

Deaths remain at 2, with coronavirus testing slowly expanding

More than 230 Arizonans have now tested positive for COVID-19, as reported cases again grew 50 percent overnight. 24 Pima County residents have been diagnosed with coronavirus as testing slowly increases.

Two people have died in the state from COVID-19, both Maricopa County residents.

Monday morning, state officials reported that 235 patients in Arizona had tested positive for the disease. Sunday, that figure was 152.

Another 29 patients live on the Navajo Nation and have apparently not been included in the daily tallies released by the Arizona Department of Health Services. The entire reservation has been placed on lockdown by tribal leaders.

The outbreak has reached at least 12 of Arizona's 15 counties. The largest group of cases has been reported in Maricopa County: 139 patients there have been diagnosed.

Twenty-four Pima County residents have been diagnosed, and the first cases were reported in Santa Cruz and Cochise counties on Friday.

Of the Pima residents reported by Sunday, 10 were men and 7 are women, and nearly half were 60 or older. Five were hospitalized, health officials said late Sunday afternoon. Details on the seven new cases were not immediately available.

Health officials have repeatedly said that the number of reported cases is just a fraction of the number of Arizonans who are carrying COVID-19. With limited testing capacity still, only the sickest people with known possible coronavirus contacts have been being tested.

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Many people carry the virus without developing symptoms for days, but still spread it to others they come in contact with — which is why doctors and public health experts repeatedly emphasize that people should remain at home as much as possible to help contain the outbreak.

The Arizona death reported Sunday was of a man in his 70s with underlying health conditions, officials said.

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health is "in the process of notifying close contacts of this person and will be asking them to monitor for symptoms."

The earlier COVID-19 death was reported Friday: a Maricopa County man in his 50s who had "underlying health conditions," state officials said.

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.

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

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

Most of those cases have been diagnosed with tests at private commercial laboratories — 194 of the positive tests have been at private labs, with 41 positives determined at the Arizona state lab.

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

Three additional cases were diagnosed among patients from the Navajo Nation, tribal officials said. There are now 29 known cases on the reservation.

Navajo officials said the majority of the cases on the locked-down 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. Some of the Navajo cases are patients from McKinley County, N.M.

Earlier, a Diné community of Chilchinbeto, Ariz., just south of Kayenta, was 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. Tribal police have set up checkpoints to discourage travel on the vast, remote reservation.

That quarantine was extended Saturday to cover the entire 22,000-square-mile reservation.

Cases up 50% overnight

The number of known cases grew overnight, up from 152, as more tests are being run after weeks of limited access. There are now 235 total cases listed by Arizona officials, not including the Navajo numbers, with officials expecting many more to be found.

Thursday, Arizona officials had tallied 44 cases, with a jump to 79 on Friday and 104 cases by Saturday.

Just 661 people in total 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. 

Sunday, the state lab had tested 408 people since the beginning of the outbreak. Saturday, the state lab had tested 394 in total. Friday, the state lab reported having tested 343 total, up from 331 the day before. Prior to Tuesday, the state lab had tested 221 patients suspected of carrying the virus.

The state lab has now ruled out 309 people with negative tests.

There are 6 pending tests at the state lab, as of Monday morning. Sunday, there were 122 tests reported as pending

Back on last 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.

Sunday, officials said that of the 17 patients here, 9 were between 18 and 59, with 8 aged 60 and older. None were younger than 18.

Five of those patients were currently hospitalized, officials said Sunday. Of the 17, 10 were men and 7 were women.

More specific demographic information was not released. Details on the cases announced Monday were not immediately available. Earlier, local officials provided more precise details about each case:

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Friday's case was:

  • 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

'Serious disease'

"COVID-19 is a serious disease that can be fatal in anyone, especially our elderly population and people with underlying health conditions," ADHS Director Cara Christ said on Friday. "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.

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