Official Says Community Transmission of Coronavirus Expected Soon in Arizona

Blood vial with word coronavirus written on it

By Jessica Swarner

February 27, 2020

The state’s top health official says Arizona is likely to see more confirmed cases of the coronavirus soon.

As COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus, continues to infect people and claim lives across the world, the head of the Arizona Department of Health Services says its presence in the state is likely to increase soon. 

Dr. Cara Christ told ABC 15 she and other health officials have been speaking with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention daily about the virus. The CDC said this week that an increasing number of cases is basically inevitable. 

“We expect we will see community spread in this country,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told CNN. “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”

Christ said it’s not possible to nail down a timeline of when more cases may be seen in Arizona, only that it is expected to be soon, possibly within weeks.

So far the state has only seen one confirmed case, an Arizona State University student who had recently returned from Wuhan, China, the center of the outbreak. That person has been treated and released from isolation. The university canceled its study abroad program in China shortly after, and canceled trips planned to South Korea on Wednesday.

For mass gatherings and other events that could facilitate the spread of the virus in Arizona, Christ said, authorities will make decisions to postpone or cancel on a case-by-case basis.

As for Arizona’s neighboring state, California experienced its most difficult day yet with the virus on Thursday.

The state announced it was monitoring more than 8,400 people for the disease, according to The Hill. One person appears to be the first in the U.S. to contract the virus from an unknown source, possibly becoming the first instance of community transmission in the country. This means that person had not traveled to an affected area or come in contact with an infected person, as far as they know. 

To try to prevent the virus’s spread, the CDC recommends people wash their hands frequently, disinfect frequently touched objects, and cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Although many people have been buying and wearing surgical face masks, the agency says they only recommend people who feel sick to wear one, not those who are healthy.

According to the World Health Organization, there were 82,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the world and about 2,800 deaths as of Thursday. 


  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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