State officials urge people not to hoard supplies The Chandler Arizonan

State officials urge people not to hoard supplies

State officials urge people not to hoard supplies
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By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

The state’s top health official said there will be more cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Arizona.

But Cara Christ, director of the state Health Services Department, said it doesn’t necessarily mean there actually more people getting sick.

Instead, she said, it reflects more people are going to get tested, leading to more positive test results.

Christ also urged Arizonans not to stockpile masks or hand sanitizer. Both Christ and Gov. Doug Ducey said they are living by this advice and not stocking up on anything.

Christ said it’s a bad idea. “We would encourage the public not to do a run on hand sanitizers or disinfecting wipes,’’ she said.

“Buy what you need so the market can support all Arizonans,’’ Christ continued.

At this point, Christ said the state has tested 26 Arizonans for the novel virus.

What is concerning, she said, is there are now cases showing up in other states of people who have not traveled to China or come into contact with someone who has been overseas.

“So we know the disease is spreading and we can expect additional cases in Arizona,’’ Christ said.

“When a new disease like COVID-19 is detected, only the most severe cases are initially identified,’’ Christ said. “As we learn more about the emerging disease, we expand who we are testing based on improved understanding of the symptoms and the disease spread.’’

Christ also detailed the various efforts people should take to protect themselves and not spread the disease, ticking off the usual suggestions from washing hands regularly to urging employers to come up with plans to continue business, perhaps through telecommuting, if employees get sick.

Potentially more problematic, she said, is what to do about children who, by their nature, tend not to take normal precautions like covering their coughs.

“We would recommend to our educational partners to ensure your kids are washing their hands frequently, using this as an opportunity to teach them how,’’ Christ said. This means washing them as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday’’ twice.

It also means having hand sanitizer available “and then to make sure you’re encouraging parents to keep their children home when they’re sick.’’

Ducey also acknowledged a 2002 state law which grants him vast authority to declare an emergency in cases of viral outbreak, including forced inoculation — if there ever is a vaccine developed — and ordering people quarantined.

“And, if necessary and needed I will use every tool possible to protect public health in Arizona,’’ he said.

Christ said her agency’s laboratory now has the kits and the capability to run tests for the virus. She said they can review 450 specimens a day, with results the same day or the next day.

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