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State adds number of people tested back to website, shows 200 total tested for COVID-19 at state lab

Posted at 10:21 AM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 15:36:51-04

PHOENIX — State health officials had added back a section of its website that shows the number of people tested for COVID-19 at the state lab.

Sunday evening, health officials removed the section that showed 183 people were tested at the state lab.

A spokesperson for Arizona Department of Health Services said it was removed because it was a misrepresentation of the number of people being tested in Arizona because commercial labs are testing now, too.

The state has added the numbers back to the site, but with a disclaimer that reads: "This is NOT the total number of tests that have been conducted in Arizona as it does not include tests at private labs. The number of COVID-19 cases DOES include these private lab tests."

ABC15 reported on Sunday the lack of testing numbers done inside the state's lab.

Here is a look at the number of tests the state has done over the last few days:

  • On Wednesday, Arizona's state lab tested 15 people
  • On Thursday, Arizona's state lab tested 28 people
  • On Friday, Arizona's state lab tested 40 people
  • On Saturday, Arizona's state lab tested zero people, according to their daily updates.
  • As of Sunday morning, Arizona's state lab had performed 183 tests, the same number from 24 hours earlier.
  • As of Monday, Arizona's state lab has performed 200 tests, up 17 from Saturday's total.

A spokesperson for AZDHS tells ABC15 the section showing the number of people tested has been removed because it's a misrepresentation of people tested in Arizona.

Arizona's state lab is only testing people who meet a certain criteria including people who have been out of the country or a person who has had direct contact with a positive case.

Beginning last week, four commercial labs have begun testing for COVID-19 in Arizona: SonoraQuest, Mayo Clinic, LabCorp, and Arup.

On Monday, six positive cases total were reported by commercial labs.

Despite low test numbers reported at the state lab, Dr. Christ said commercial labs have tested hundreds of people. However, those numbers are not being reported on the state's website.

ABC15 is told that commercial testing is expected to exceed the state's capacity.

As of now, it is unclear if the state will report the number of tests with commercial labs as well.


Could mobile locations be set up for testing be the next step in Arizona?

Dr. Christ said there isn't one reason why there is a lack of testing.

"One of the things we’re hearing is medical providers may not have the testing kits or the appropriate PPE, so that's what we’re working on today is, can we set up some type of testing center? Can we work with the labs?"

As of Saturday, a spokesperson for the department said mobile testing locations have not been established yet.

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is now available to take COVID-19 calls from Arizona providers and the general public: 1-844-542-8201

The Arizona Department of Health Services has a website dedicated to what you should do if you believe you have symptoms.

If you traveled to China or other areas currently affected by COVID-19 and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • If you need to seek medical care, before going to your doctor’s office, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Discuss travel to China with your healthcare provider. Older adults and travelers with chronic medical conditions may be at risk for more severe disease.