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Community-spread coronavirus case confirmed in Pinal County

Coronavirus in Arizona
Posted at 9:07 AM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-07 11:40:05-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — The state's first community-spread coronavirus case has been confirmed in a Pinal County resident.

The case is the third person has tested "presumptive positive" in Arizona, the state health department confirmed Friday.

The Arizona Department of Health Services says the patient is a healthcare worker in her 40s who is currently hospitalized in Maricopa County.

Pima County Health Department representative Aaron Pacheco said there are no coronavirus diagnoses in the county.

"We do not currently have any presumptive or confirmed positive cases in Pima County," he said via email. "We do plan on sharing with all of our media partners and the public as cases become identified."

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

State officials say this woman is not known to have come in contact with any confirmed coronavirus cases and has not traveled to any areas where it is spreading or considered high-risk. Due to this fact, public health officials are treating this case as its first instance of community spread in Arizona.

"Community Spread refers to the spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown. We're expecting to see more community spread in Arizona, which is why it's so critical that Arizonans follow our prevention guidelines," said Cara Christ, the AZDHS director.

"All signs are pointing to this disease acting a lot like flu in our community. The only difference, is its a little more contagious than the flu and we don't have a treatment or a vaccine," said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

There are concerns about the health care worker's contact with those she may have worked with or treated in the days leading up to her testing positive for COVID-19. The Maricopa County Health Department said they've been in touch with all involved.

"What I can tell you is that we have been interviewing the case and close contacts and we have identified all close contacts and have let them know that they have been exposed and what they can do to prevent the spread and to monitor for symptoms and that has been done in the last 12 hours," said Sunenshine.

And some media outlets caught wind of this case the day before, but with little information. Some at the two press conference were also concerned about the timely release of certain details that could help the public.

"A lot of times when we are initially getting results, we get a lot of information that we have to chase down that may not be right. So as soon as we were able to confirm it, this morning is when we sent out the press release. We didn't even have this much information until just a little bit ago. As we're getting information, we're trying to get it to you guy but make sure that it's verified and confirmed as soon as we have it," said Christ.

No other information about the health care worker is being released to protect her identity.

FULL SECTION: Coronavirus

Two other patients in Maricopa County tested positive for the coronavirus in previous weeks. According to the latest data from AZDHS, 51 people have been tested in the state so far -- 15 of those tests are still pending, with two presumptive positive and one confirmed positive.

Of the two presumptive positive cases, the AZDHS says one is travel-related and one is person-to-person.

Get the latest information on the coronavirus on the AZDHS website, and on the CDC website.

This is a developing story. Stay with KGUN 9 for the latest updates.