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DATA: Arizona falling behind other states when it comes to testing numbers

Posted: 6:27 PM, Mar 24, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-24 21:27:47-04
Coronavirus testing

PHOENIX — As testing for COVID-19 continues to ramp up across the country, data that is released daily by the Arizona Department of Health shows concerning statistics.

As of data released on the morning of March 24, Arizona has the fourth-lowest number of testing rates in the country for COVID-19.

COVID-19 testing statistics for the United States, as well as outlying territories, are tracked and recorded daily by the website covidtracking.com, an independent cooperative project of scientists and journalists. Arizona, in turn, updates its COVID-19 testing data on the Arizona Department of Health website daily at 9 a.m. At that time, the AZDHS reported that 692 tests have been completed in the state.

ABC15 took that number and compared it with other states by calculating a testing rate per 100,000 residents. Arizona was ranked 49 out of 52 with a rate of 9.4, just ahead of Missouri’s 8.9 and below Wisconsin’s 10.8. The chart is topped by New York, which has seen the most severe COVID-19 outbreak of any state at 469.5 tests per 100,000 NY residents. New Mexico, which has not has only recorded 83 cases of COVID-19, nevertheless has been testing its residents aggressively, and is ranked fourth at 284.9.

One of the possible reasons for Arizona’s low testing rate is the state only reports tests that are conducted at the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory. Private labs, such as Sonora Quest, are also testing for COVID-19, but they only report positive cases to the state. The data suggests that they may be testing a far larger amount than the state lab, since the state is reporting 285 positive COVID-19 tests coming from private laboratories, and only 41 from the state lab.

While the state was one of the first in the nation to have a positive case of COVID-19 back in February, testing did not begin to ramp up until March 8. On that day, 56 total tests were completed and by the end of the week that number had more than tripled to 183. Testing has increased steadily since then, reaching a peak of 692 tests on March 24. During that same time frame, Arizona’s positive cases of COVID-19 went from five to 357.