Testing increases, demand and result times inconsistent

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PHOENIX – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the state, testing sites have experienced inconsistencies in the number of Arizonans seeking tests and in the time it takes to get results.

Some testing sites, such as one in west Phoenix and another in south Phoenix, have appointments available and wait times as short as 30 minutes, KJZZ reported. These testing “blitz” sites can process more than 1,000 tests per day and return results from a California lab in 24 to 48 hours. They’ll operate from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily through Tuesday at Maryvale High School and South Mountain Park.

In a news conference Thursday, Gov. Doug Ducey mentioned the Maryvale High site as an example of inconsistent testing demand, noting that turnout was 28% of capacity.

But as opportunities to get tested grow in Arizona, some test results are taking more than a week to be returned, and delays longer than three weeks have been reported.

Sonora Quest Laboratories is experiencing a major backlog in its testing protocols, with some tests taking nearly two weeks to return results, according to ABC15. Sonora Quest said Wednesday that 61,700 tests had not yet been processed. The company said that most results come back in nine to 12 days, though reports have indicated some results taking far longer.

For those who believe they may already have had COVID-19, the University of Arizona expanded its free antibody testing program Thursday to cover 13 additional categories of essential workers, the Arizona Daily Independent reported. Groups newly eligible for the 250,000 available tests include educators, child care workers, food industry and hospitality employees.

As of Sunday, July 26, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported a total of 162,014 cases of COVID-19 and 3,305 deaths in the state. It said 1,087,547 tests for COVID-19 have been completed in public and private labs in Arizona, and 12.7% of tests have come back positive for the virus that causes the disease.

Husband’s postmortem COVID-19 diagnosis surprises Glendale woman

Kathy Nester of Glendale was surprised when she saw COVID-19 as one of her 66-year-old husband’s causes of death. KTAR News reported Maricopa County’s Office of the Medical Examiner had determined postmortem that Donald Glen Nester Jr. had COVID-19.

Kathy Nester said her husband had tested negative for COVID-19 before recent back surgery. Shortly thereafter, she said, he was fatigued and began to struggle while walking, symptoms he and his family thought stemmed from the surgery.

On June 28, he was found unconscious and rushed to the hospital, where doctors initially said he died of acute respiratory illness, she said.

Nester said she didn’t give examiners permission to test her husband, and she’s disappointed to see COVID-19 noted on his death certificate. But state health officials told KTAR they test for COVID-19 under state law that allows them to do so for public safety.

Arizona bar, taverns sue Gov. Ducey over closures

A lawsuit filed with the Arizona Supreme Court by 50 owners of 44 bars claims Ducey’s order closing bars – along with other businesses – is unconstitutional because it is unevenly applied, and it denies bar owners their due process.

Ilan Wurman, the attorney representing the bar owners, also said that only the Legislature has the power to issue the order and that laws cannot be subject to “the whims of one man,” according to Cronkite News.

The initial June 29 order demanded bars, nightclubs, gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters, water parks and tubing operations to “pause operations until at least July 27, 2020, unless extended.” That extension came Thursday, with no end date but with a requirement that the order be reviewed every two weeks.

Two similar challenges from fitness chains with locations in Arizona have already been rejected by judges in the state and a federal courts.

Longtime Chandler swim coach dies from COVID-19

Chandler High School head swimming and assistant softball coach Kerry Croswhite died Tuesday at the age of 61 from COVID-19, the East Valley Tribune reported. Croswhite coached at Chandler for 15 years. In a tweet, David Hines, executive director of the Arizona Interscholastic Association, described Croswhite’s death as “a devastating loss for our community.”

Some schools to reopen on August 17

The coming school year will be unlike any other in history, and as Arizona schools plan to reopen, the governor and state superintendent are stressing flexibility.

Some Arizona schools will open Aug. 17, according to Ducey and State Schools Superintendent Kathy Hoffman, and distance learning and some in-person opportunities are on the table, Cronkite News reported.

Ducey issued an executive order Thursday saying that public health benchmarks used for reopening schools will be released by Aug. 7.

Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Christian Babcock expects to graduate in spring 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a related area in sustainability. Babcock, who has interned with The Arizona Republic, is a digital reporter for Cronkite Sports this spring.