COVID-19 in Arizona: Two deaths reported, drive-thru testing set to begin

PHOENIX – As testing efforts ramp up, state health officials announced the first two COVID-19-related deaths in Arizona, both in Maricopa County. State health officials Friday night confirmed the first death of a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions. Another man with underlying health conditions, this one in his 70s, was reported dead Sunday.

As of Monday, March 23, Arizona health officials reported 234 cases of COVID-19 in Arizona. State labs have tested 352 people for the respiratory illness and ruled out 309. More tests are being conducted at private labs, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Testing via drive-thru

Arizona’s largest health system, Banner Health, launched a drive-thru for COVID-19 testing Monday in Phoenix and Tucson. Patients are required to call in and speak with a clinician to schedule a testing appointment, but a doctor’s order is not necessary.

Testing via robots at a drive-thru

Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute plans to use robots to improve access to coronavirus testing with a drive-thru site that is to be open to the public later this week. ASU could provide faster testing rates than state and hospital labs, Joshua LaBaer, executive director of the Biodesign Institute, told the Arizona Republic.

By appointment only

Visitors to Phoenix city buildings downtown now must make appointments for business with city staff members. As of Monday, visitors with appointments will be escorted through City Hall, the Calvin C. Goode Municipal Building and the Public Transit Department administration building.

Hotline for COVID-19

Gov. Doug Ducey on Sunday announced the launch of a statewide hotline that offers answers to questions and concerns about COVID-19 by dialing 211. The bilingual call line will provide information about preparing for and preventing spread, testing information, and what to do if you’re ill and think you might have COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The hotline, which is for Arizona residents, will operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Border restrictions

Arizona officials issued new limitations on “nonessential” border crossings that impact tourists and shoppers, according to Cronkite News. As of midnight Friday, border officials in the United States and Mexico have limited crossings to goods and essential workers that are needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

How to help

Arizonans can help those affected by COVID-19 by volunteering or donating to local food banks through nonprofit organizations, such as Feeding America.

News Reporter, Los Angeles

Hannah Foote is an Arizona native who expects to graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minors in justice studies and ethnic studies. Foote, who primarily is a digital reporter, also has reported for The State Press and the Downtown Devil.