Arizona Hits 13 Coronavirus Deaths, Grocery Store Worker Tests Positive, and More

Arizona Hits 13 Coronavirus Deaths, Grocery Store Worker Tests Positive, and More

By Jessica Swarner

March 27, 2020

As the coronavirus continues to spread, grocery stores and universities are finding ways to help without putting people’s health at risk.

There are now 665 Arizonans who have tested positive for coronavirus, the state health department said Friday. The number increased by 157 cases since 506 were reported Thursday morning. 

Five more deaths have occurred in the state since Thursday’s report, making 13 in total who have died from the disease. The first coronavirus-related death occurred last week.

Maricopa County saw 399 cases, while there were 102 in Pima; 49 in Navajo; 41 in Coconino; 36 in Pinal; 11 in Apache; nine in Yavapai; four each in Mohave, Graham, and Yuma; and two each in La Paz, Santa Cruz, and Cochise. 

Fifty-two of the positive results came from the state’s public health lab, while 613 came from private labs. The state lab has tested 420 people, with 30 of those samples pending. 

It’s unclear how many total people in the state have been tested because private labs only report confirmed cases. However, they will soon have to report how many tests they have administered to comply with an executive order Gov. Doug Ducey signed Monday. 

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said Wednesday that 6,600 Arizonas had been tested for COVID-19 so far.  

Grocery Stores Adapt

A worker at a Fry’s Food Stores location in Mesa tested positive for coronavirus Friday. The employee is currently receiving medical care and is recovering, according to Fry’s. 

A company spokeswoman for the company told The Copper Courier the employee last worked at the location on Alma School Road and Main Street on March 22. 

“Upon learning of the case, we worked closely with state and local health experts, followed all sanitation and cleaning procedures, communicated with and supported our store team, and with the support of the state government, the store remains open,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. “We will continue to follow guidance from local, state and federal agencies, including the CDC and other health organizations.”

Fry’s parents company Kroger is in the process of installing plastic “sneeze guards” on checkout, pharmacy, and in-store Starbucks counters to provide a barrier between workers and customers. The company also said it’s putting decals on the floor of its stores to encourage customers to stand at least 6 feet apart while in line. 

Other stores, including Walmart, Target, Safeway, Albertsons, and Whole Foods, are taking similar prevention measures.  

More Doctors? 

The University of Arizona is considering allowing fourth-year medical students to graduate early so they can join other health care professionals in fighting the coronavirus, according to The Arizona Republic

If the students graduated before their scheduled date in May, they would have a few months to help with the COVID-19 effort before starting their residencies, UArizona President Robert Robbins reportedly said in a telephone town hall Thursday. 

The Republic reported that the medical school’s average class size is 115, while its Phoenix branch has 80 students. It’s unclear how many students would be able to graduate early as the university is still considering its options and developing a plan. 

Multiple medical schools in the Boston and New York areas have announced plans to graduate students early, with New York University being the first. No other medical schools in Arizona have announced plans to follow suit as of Friday.

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  • 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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