Arizona’s top health official says 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.
Health officials are talking with the CDC daily about the latest on coronavirus.
When asked why the public in Arizona is not getting daily updates as well, as we are on the verge of a pandemic, Christ said 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 says 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.
In preparation, Arizona’s top health official is encouraging businesses to have a plan in place for when the coronavirus spreads in Arizona. Dr. Cara Christ writes, “we encourage Arizona businesses to remain informed on the spread of a respiratory disease; create attendance policies for individuals to stay home when sick.”
Dr. Christ encourages advising businesses to create a work environment that promotes hygiene and provides employees with items such as hand sanitizer, tissues, and soap and water. She also recommends that businesses consider options for telecommuting if and when Arizona residents are put in quarantine.
As of now, Arizona has had only one reported case of coronavirus, and that individual has recovered.
The best ways to prevent the spread of viruses are to:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the trash.