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State officials: Arizona is ready for outbreak of coronavirus

Posted at 6:21 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 21:02:51-05

PHOENIX — Sky Harbor prides itself on being one of the cleanest airports in the U.S. In the age of the coronavirus, that's not to be taken lightly.

"We take it very, very, seriously so we are cleaning constantly," says Assistant Aviation Director Deborah Ostreicher.

Sky Harbor has experience dealing with pandemics. During the SARS outbreak, there were times when arriving flights were isolated until passengers were screened.

"We are well-practiced doing these types of things," Ostreicher said.

As of now, there are no issues with the coronavirus at Sky Harbor, but with passengers whose flights originated in Asia arriving daily, there is always the possibility that changes

There was one confirmed case of coronavirus in Arizona. The patient is no longer in isolation, but Director of Arizona's Health Services Cara Christ thinks it is only a matter of time before the state sees more cases.

"I think that we are doing everything possible in order to mitigate the impacts of coronavirus in the U.S.," Christ said. "I do believe though we will see coronavirus right here in Arizona."

As Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, State Senator Kate Brophy McGee (R-Phoenix Dist. 28) receives regular briefings on Arizona's preparedness in the event of a coronavirus outbreak.

Brophy McGee believes Arizona is ready. "I think the way we make sure people aren't scared is to give them information," she said. "I have every faith in the Department of Health Services."

Communication has been key to tracking potential carriers of the virus. Arizona routinely receives the contact information of residents who traveled to countries where there is a coronavirus outbreak from federal health officials.

That information is then passed along to county health departments. "Our local health departments are the boots on the ground. They are reaching out to those individuals," Director Christ says.

The goal is to learn quickly if there is an outbreak of coronavirus in Arizona and then respond immediately.

Senator Brophy McGee says, "The purpose of those plans is a coordinated and appropriate response. Not a reaction to the news from the field."

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