COVID-19 in Arizona: Testing allowed for more people under new guidelines

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The Arizona Department of Health Services is expanding its criteria for COVID-19 testing beyond high-risk people and those with symptoms of the disease, according to a blog post Thursday.

“Today, we issued updated standing orders, expanding the criteria for testing to anyone who thinks they have been exposed to and could be infected with COVID-19,” wrote Dr. Cara Christ, director of ADHS. “Previously, this order was limited to high-risk individuals and those with specific symptoms,” which include a dry cough, fever and persistent fatigue.

In recent weeks, however, the number of tests done in Arizona has actually declined, the Arizona Republic reports. According to data from ADHS, testing peaked the week of March 22, at 12,724 and held steady for the week of March 29, but decreased to 10,680 the week of April 5. Numbers rose to 11,128 the following week but dropped to 5,302 the week of April 19. Officials caution that those numbers may change because of a reporting lag of four to seven days. Positive results for COVID-19 increased from 9% to 12% in that time period, and experts say that having more testing available will lower that rate.

As of April 26, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 6,526 cases of COVID-19 and 275 deaths in the state. It said 64,811 tests for COVID-19 had been completed as of April 25 in public and private labs in Arizona, and 9% of tests had come back positive for the virus.

Suns broadcaster proud of stand taken by his daughter, an ICU nurse

Phoenix Suns broadcaster Tom Leander says he is proud of his daughter, an intensive care nurse who on Monday stood silently as protesters at the Arizona Capitol demanded the state reopen businesses. Lauren Leander and other health care providers in scrubs showed up at the Capitol and faced protesters who bombarded them with derogatory comments, Cronkite News reports.

House OKs $484 billion in COVID-19 relief, loans could go out soon

Small businesses, hospitals and other services can start to see some money coming in as the House approved a $484 billion measure that refills the exhausted Paycheck Protection Program. Some Arizona lawmakers say that the bill did not do everything they wanted, as Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Phoenix, told Cronkite News. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill soon.

UArizona is using wastewater to track COVID-19

Researchers at the University of Arizona’s Water and Energy Sustainable Technology Center are examining sewage as a way to track COVID-19’s spread. Fox 10 reports UArizona researchers are taking in samples from Los Angeles to New York and testing them.

Inmates in danger of being infected by COVID-19

Models predict that 99% of the 42,000 inmates in Arizona could become infected with COVID-19, according to KJZZ. So far, it said, only 173 inmates have been tested, with 35 confirmed cases. The low number of confirmed cases is a facade, inmate advocates contend, because less that 5% of the prison population has been tested. They fear that more testing will reveal a situation similar to that in Ohio, where every inmate was tested and more than 70% were positive with COVID-19.

Feds seek more COVID-19 updates from Indian Country

The Department of Justice is proposing additional questions about COVID-19 infections, deaths of inmates and other concerns for its annual survey of jails in Indian Country. Public comments on the change will be open through May 26.

How to help: Fund personal protective equipment for health care workers

PCA SKIN is announcing an initiative supporting nonprofits in Arizona to aid in the production of personal protective equipment for health care workers and first responders. All through April, Masks for PPE will donate 100% of proceeds from PCA masks sales to FABRIC’s non-profit Arizona Apparel Foundation. Click this link to donate.

Nicholas Tirella

Sports Reporter, Los Angeles

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