Third Coronavirus Case in Arizona Confirmed, Woman Hospitalized

The 2019 novel coronavirus.
The 2019 novel coronavirus. CDC
The Arizona Department of Health Services announced on Friday morning that a third person has been diagnosed with the 2019 novel coronavirus. It's the second presumptive positive case identified by the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory this week.

The latest case involves a woman in her 40s. She is currently hospitalized.

State health officials said just how the woman was exposed to the virus is still being investigated and could potentially be the first possible case of community spread, meaning the spread of an illness for which the source of the infection is unknown. The DHS and Maricopa County Public Health are still trying to determine whether that's the case, or whether the latest patient had contact with another person known to be infected with COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is rapidly evolving and based on events in other states, we expect additional cases and community spread in Arizona,” said Dr. Cara Christ, DHS director, in a press release. “Keeping Arizonans safe and healthy is our number one priority and we are confident the public health system in Arizona is well prepared to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

As per usual, public health officials are continuing to identify and monitor any close contacts of the latest presumptive positive patient. Anyone who is identified to have come into contact with the latest patient will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.

"COVID-19 spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms are thought to appear within two to 14 days after exposure and consist of fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing," a press release from DHS states. "Those considered at risk for contracting the virus are individuals with travel to an area where COVID-19 is spreading or individuals in close contact with a person under investigation for the COVID-19."

On Tuesday, DHS confirmed a second presumptive positive case. Presumptive positive means that while the public health lab test came back positive, it is still pending confirmatory testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The presumptive positive patient was transported to HonorHealth's Scottsdale Osborn location; however, he has since returned home and is in isolation.

A press release from the Maricopa County Public Health website states that the case involves "a man in his 20s, [who] is not hospitalized and is recovering at home. This individual is a known contact of a presumed positive case outside of Arizona who had traveled to an area with community spread of COVID-19."

After receiving the presumptive positive, public health officials interviewed close contacts of the case and recommended that they monitor themselves for symptoms and quarantine themselves for 14 days based on the risk of exposure.

Five Scottsdale first responders who transported and evaluated a second presumptive positive case are under isolation protocol, Scottsdale city officials said on Thursday.

The first case, which involved a member of the Arizona State University community who recently had traveled to Wuhan, China, where the viral outbreak began, already has been resolved. After nearly a month in isolation, he was cleared of the virus after multiple negative tests from the CDC and was released.

So far, 51 people in Arizona have been tested for the virus. Thirty-three cases have been ruled out and 15 are still pending. The other three are the two presumptive positives and the since-resolved positive from January.

On Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services announced that the state will be receiving a $500,000 federal grant to help support Arizona's response to COVID-19.

The best way to prevent COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases is to:
• 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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Meg O'Connor was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from April 2019 to April 2020.