PHOENIX — The risk of contracting the strain of coronavirus known as COVID-19 in Arizona is “increasing with some areas of heightened risk” right now, according to the state health department.
However, if you have a strong reason to believe you have been infected, call (844) 542-8201. You will be asked questions about the severity of symptoms you’re showing and your recent travel history.
Symptoms of the virus include fever, severe coughing and difficulty breathing. People who recently traveled to China or heavily impacted areas like Washington state and New York are the most likely to encounter the virus.
If you meet the criteria for treatment, you’ll be directed to a testing facility. Health officials are asking people to call your doctor or urgent care facility in advance so they’re ready.
However, The Maricopa County Department of Health says testing is limited to the most severe cases of illness due to a shortage of testing kits.
"There simply isn’t a way to get people with mild to moderate illness tested right now, Rebecca Sunenshine with the department said.
The department says it's running extremely low on virus specimens needed to correctly diagnose a patient, and that hospitals don't currently have the equipment needed to collect more themselves.
County health officials have asked the government for assistance and recommend people suffering from mild symptoms to self-isolate at home, drink fluids and rest.
"Availability of testing is not what will ultimately impact the spread of this outbreak," Sunenshine said. "But staying home when sick, washing our hands, not touching our faces, and avoiding unnecessary physical contact and group gatherings of more than 10 people will."
If your case is deemed severe enough or you are in the most vulnerable demographic, 60 years or older with existing conditions, you will be given priority for testing.
The state’s largest healthcare provider, Banner Health, has a network for testing in place across the state. Drive-thru testing centers were recently opened in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Coconino County for people with doctor’s orders; you’ll be turned away without one.
There are things all people can do to limit the risk of infection. The CDC recommends people:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
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