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

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times

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.

Arizona State Health Lab

“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.

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. 

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