13 Coronavirus Cases Confirmed in Arizona, Third Case in Pima County

The 2019 novel coronavirus.
The 2019 novel coronavirus. CDC
A third COVID-19 case has been confirmed in Pima County, local health officials said, bringing the statewide total to 13.

"The individual is an older adult currently recovering in an area hospital," a Sunday press release from Pima County states. "The Health Department immediately began an investigation to identify close contacts and recommend actions to prevent further spread."

Aaron Pacheco, a spokesperson for the Pima County Health Department, said the county would not be releasing any further information about the case.

On Saturday, March 14, three new COVID-19 cases in Arizona were identified by the state Department of Health Services: one in Pima County, one in Graham County, and one in Maricopa County.

The Graham County case is the first confirmed case in that county, meaning the COVID-19 outbreak now has extended to four Arizona counties.

On Friday night, the Pima Unified School District (in Graham County) said that a staff member of Pima Elementary School had tested positive for the virus.

The school district already had closed the day before as a precaution. Pima Elementary has about 500 K-6th grade students. Superintendent Sean Rickert told KJZZ he estimates about 166 students could have come into contact with the employee.

"We have asked the students who she came in contact with to self-quarantine," Rickert told KJZZ. "We have also asked staff members that had contact with that staff member to self-quarantine. We are working with the county health department to take whatever steps we can to address this issue in a way that preserves our public health system."

The new case in Pima County was also announced locally last night.

Pima County health officials identified their first presumptive positive coronavirus case on March 9. At this time, there is no clear link between the new case identified today and the March 9 case, health officials said in a press release.

How the person in the new case contracted the virus remains under investigation. The infected individual and his or her household contacts are at home in isolation and under observation, health officials said. The individual had recently traveled to another state, though officials are not yet sure whether he or she contracted the virus while traveling.

A spokesperson for the Pima County Health Department did not respond when asked for further information on the new presumptive positive case, including the person's age.

"PCHD is working to identify additional close contacts that may have been exposed while the person was infectious," the press release states. "Any individuals who have been identified as having been exposed will be contacted directly. These individuals will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms in collaboration with PCHD and medical providers."

The latest Maricopa County case (the fourth so far) involves a woman in her 30s who is isolated and recovering at home, MCDPH said in a statement issued on Twitter, adding that they are investigating the woman's close contacts to try to stop the spread of the virus.

As of Sunday morning, 183 people in Arizona have been tested for the virus; 121 tests have been ruled out and 50 are still pending. The latest Pima County case — confirmed by a commercial lab, not a state lab — brings the total to 13 positive cases or presumptive positive cases.

DHS has claimed the state health lab has the capacity to test 450 samples a day. Yet 50 cases have been pending since yesterday. Meanwhile, only 40 additional people have been tested for COVID-19 since Friday, despite the fact that, according to a Pima County school superintendent, an infected elementary school employee came into contact with 166 people.

There are now over 2,800 known cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus in the United States across 49 states and Washington, D.C. At least 59 people have died since becoming infected. A majority of the cases and deaths are in Washington state (607 cases, 40 deaths as of Sunday morning). New York has 524 cases and two deaths; California has 378 cases and five deaths.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. That same day, Governor Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency, saying he was "not taking any chances" as the state expects more cases.

For more information on the past cases and biggest COVID-19 developments in the state, read our coverage from yesterday.
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Meg O'Connor was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from April 2019 to April 2020.