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Stanton: Coronavirus test kits sent to Arizona health officials ‘defective’

(CDC via AP)

PHOENIX — U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton said in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence on Friday that coronavirus test kits sent to Arizona health officials earlier this month were “defective.”

Stanton said the state’s top public health officials told him the rapid diagnostics test sent to the state lab on Feb. 11 were faulty, forcing patient samples to be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and slowing the process of confirming cases.

Chris Minnick, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Health Services, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday that the defective part of the three-part test had been corrected since Stanton sent his letter. Minnick said the state is prepared to start in-house testing next week.

The Democrat, whose 9th congressional district spans parts of the East Valley, called the kits “outrageous and unacceptable.”

“In my district, there has already been one confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, and local public health officials are working to stop it from spreading,” Stanton said in the letter. “But the flat-footed response and lack of transparency from this administration continues to make their jobs more difficult.”

Cara Christ, the state’s health department director, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday that the state is expected to start same-day coronavirus testing at its lab on Monday.

The state’s public health lab was recently validated for the testing, which set the plan in motion, Christ said.

Arizona has only had one confirmed case of COVID-19 and risk for it to spread through the state remains low, but the in-house testing is a response to the possibility of additional cases.

The state health department on Thursday released a notice stating it was preparing for more cases.

Gov. Doug Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday that the state has a plan in place in case a coronavirus outbreak becomes a reality.

The potentially deadly virus has made its way to more than 60 countries on every continent except Antarctica, sickening more than 80,000.

Symptoms of coronavirus are very similar to that of the flu.

The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. It is a member of the coronavirus family that’s a close cousin to the deadly SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Peter Samore contributed to this report.

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