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AZDHS: Previously identified case of coronavirus is member of Queen Creek school community

Posted at 7:52 PM, Mar 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 21:22:08-04

QUEEN CREEK, AZ — The Arizona Department of Health Services confirmed Sunday a person who previously tested positive for coronavirus is a member of the American Leadership Academy, Ironwood K-12 Campus in Queen Creek.

The person is believed to live with a female healthcare worker in her 40s from Pinal County who was diagnosed on Friday. She is currently hospitalized in stable condition in Maricopa County.

Pinal County health officials have said the woman is not a known contact of any confirmed coronavirus patients and has not traveled to any areas where coronavirus is spreading widely. This prompted county agencies to treat the case as the first instance of "community spread" in our state.

Officials said the person did not have a severe illness and has fully recovered from the virus.

"Because the individual was not on campus while ill, Public Health believes the risk to others, outside of close contacts, of getting COVID-19 from this person is low," said the AZDHS in a press release.


ALA Ironwood is on Spring Break this week, and AZDHS said the school administration will be cleaning all areas of campus and adding hand sanitizer stations to hallways, as well as incorporating routine hand hygiene practices throughout the day when students return to school.

ALA sent a letter to parents that reads:

"Dear Families,

Pinal County Department of Public Health has informed us that a member of our school community has been identified as having a presumptive positive test for COVID-19. This means that the test was positive at the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory but has not been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This individual did not have severe illness and has fully recovered from the virus. Because the individual never attended school while ill, State and County Public Health officials believe the risk is low of ALA students and faculty contracting COVID-19 from this person.

We care deeply about the health and wellness of our students and staff. We want to assure you that we are working closely with and receiving direction from County and State Public Health officials to provide you with accurate information and respond rapidly and appropriately. Additionally, we are coordinating with Governor Ducey’s office, local legislators, and county health professionals.

Evidence to date indicates that children 18 and under experience a mild form of this illness (similar to a cold) and in fact, over 80 percent of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in China experience a mild form of this virus. Those who have more serious illness tend to be older adults and those with chronic health conditions.

We are aware that there has been respiratory illness circulating in our school and discussed this with Public Health. Public Health believes that there is a low likelihood that this illness was COVID-19.

What has ALA done in response?
ALA has completed enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces, such as door knobs, faucets, toilet handles with appropriate disinfectants, as recommended by Public Health. Hand sanitizing stations have been added to main hallways. In each classroom, students have access to hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes. Teachers will be incorporating routine hand hygiene practices throughout the day and reiterating to all students proper hand washing techniques. Intermittent cleaning of frequently-used surfaces such as doorknobs, tabletops, etc. will be completed. We have completed these same precautionary measures at the ALA-Ironwood K-6 Elementary campus as well out of an abundance of caution. General things that everyone should do to prevent the spread of all respiratory illnesses include:
• 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.

What you need to know about COVID-19:
• COVID-19 causes a wide range of symptoms including fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
• Most people (about 80%) develop only mild symptoms, particularly children.
• Like influenza, those most likely to develop severe disease are people older than 60 years and those with other medical conditions like heart or lung disease.
• The virus is spread person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
• People who are most at risk of becoming infected are those who have prolonged, close contact with a person who is infected with COVID-19 and is symptomatic.
• There is currently no vaccine or treatment for COVID-19.
• Find up to date information at [] and at []

Please know that the health and safety of our students and staff is our most important priority. Be assured that we will continue to coordinate with the public health experts in order to make the best decisions for our families and staff. We have provided all of the information we currently have and will update families as additional guidance becomes available from state and county officials. For more information and a helpful “ Frequently Asked Questions” link accompanies this letter. []

If you have questions that are not addressed in this letter or in the following FAQs [], please call us at: 480-420-2145. If you have questions about specific health symptoms, contact your primary care physician or health provider.

Thank you and kindest regards, American Leadership Academy"

Earlier Sunday, a Queen Creek elected official posted on Facebook that the infected individual is a student.

Queen Creek Town Council Member Jeff Brown originally posted on Facebook that a student at ALA Ironwood in Queen Creek has contracted coronavirus. Brown later edited the post, removing information about the school and other information about the student.

"The student that has contracted the virus is the son of the reported health care worker in Pinal County that the media reported about yesterday," Brown's original post said. "The husband of the woman, has also been confirmed as contracting the virus and apparently is hospitalized."

After hundreds of comments on the Facebook post, Brown edited the post, removing any information about a student, family, and school.

Despite multiple attempts to reach him, Brown was unavailable for comment.

The mayor of Queen Creek tells ABC15 they are working to deep clean town facilities, including playground equipment, the recreation complex and the library.

In an email statement Mayor Gail Barney said:

I urge residents to follow the recommendations provided by the State of Arizona's Health Services Department. People who are sick should stay home from work or school. If you're not sick, take care to wash your hands, and use a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you need to seek medical care, before going to your doctor’s office, call ahead and tell them about your symptoms.

Additionally, the Town is conducting deep cleans of all Town facilities, including disinfecting playground equipment, the library and the Recreation Annex. As a community we are taking the threat of this virus very seriously, and encourage our residents to take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and their families healthy.

The Town is continuing to work with the State and both Maricopa and Pinal counties to ensure the safety of our community. We will continue to share information provided by the State, as they are the lead agency on this effort.

Last week, three Scottsdale firefighters and a two-person ambulance crew were put under isolation protocol after treating a patient that later tested positive for the coronavirus.

FAST FACTS: How many cases are currently in Arizona?

A coronavirus case is considered presumptive positive when a local lab tests positive, but the CDC has not yet verified the positive test.