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Community transmission of coronavirus is expected in Arizona, possibly within weeks

Posted at 5:31 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 18:47:22-05

PHOENIX — Arizona's top health official tells ABC15 that they are expecting community transmissions of the coronavirus, and possibly soon.

Dr. Cara Christ, Director of Arizona's Department of Health and Human Services, said it's hard to give an exact timeline. This information comes one day after the Center for Disease Control said publicly that it's not a matter of if, but when local communities will have transmissions.

She went on to say that closures and stopping mass gatherings would be examined on a case-by-case basis.

Christ tells ABC15 that health officials are talking with the CDC daily about the latest on coronavirus.

ABC15 asked her why the public in Arizona is not getting daily updates as well, as we are on the verge of a pandemic.

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Christ told us it can lead to coronavirus fatigue.

"It's a very fine line to walk, but giving as much information as we know, saying when we don't know something," she explained. She went on to say that they want to make sure they're adaptable so they're not stuck going down one path while responding.

Arizona has seen disruptions to everyday life before. In 2009, a pandemic was declared for H1N1, and it led to several school closures in Arizona.

However, former director Will Humble tells ABC15 he made the decision to only close schools for one day.

"You're either going to close them all, or you're not going to close any," he said. "And we just decided the social disruption that's caused by closing schools outweighs the marginal changes you would have in term of spread of the virus."

Humble said he was one of only a few states that didn't have mass closures.

"That's what we're hoping our appointed officials and elected officials think about before imposing what the CDC said," said Humble. "Which I disagree with that line of thought."

Humble, currently the Executive Director of Arizona Public Health Association, said he expects to start seeing local transmissions in the coming weeks, if not months.