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Ducey says Arizona prioritizing COVID-19 testing for at-risk populations

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey said on Friday that Arizona is not discouraging testing for potentially coronavirus-infected individuals, but rather prioritizing it for those most at risk.

Ducey’s claim came two days after Dr. Cara Christ, the state’s public health director, sent a letter to primary care providers in which she advised to not test most patients because of shortages of supplies.

The state health department said Friday that more than 10,000 tests have been conducted in Arizona.

We’re not going to stop testing people, we’re going to increase testing,” Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad on Friday. “What Dr. Christ is saying is let’s prioritize testing to our at-risk populations. We want Arizonans to be tested.”

Ducey added that the state is trying to protect those — like individuals 65 and older with prior health issues — who are more susceptible to spreading or getting more sick from illness.

Case numbers in the state have rose rapidly in the past week as testing has become more readily available, especially from the private sector.

So far, Arizona has seen 13 deaths during the coronavirus outbreak.

Jessica Rigler, assistant director of Arizona’s Department of Health Services, said the recommendation is more of a guideline.

“This isn’t a specific restriction so much as a recommendation for providers across Arizona to ensure that we’re able to conserve the limited testing and personal protective resources that we have in order to care for the patients with the highest risk of disease or individuals who have the highest risk of spreading disease to vulnerable populations,” Rigler said.

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

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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