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Arizona health department says state still faces coronavirus testing shortage

Vials with samples taken for the new coronavirus are counted before they are prepared for RNA testing at the molecular pathology lab at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Thursday, April 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

PHOENIX – Arizona continues to face a shortage of COVID-19 testing materials.

“There are still issues with the supply chain nationally related to test collection equipment so the swabs that people use to be tested,” Assistant Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services Jessica Rigler told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday.

“There are different mechanisms for specimen collection but those have to be validated by laboratories to use on their testing platforms.”

Rigler said depending on the lab’s system, they’d either use swabs or collection methods.

As of Friday morning, Arizona has 1,769 confirmed cases of coronavirus along with 41 related deaths.

According to AZDHS’ website, 24,673 tests have been conducted in the state.

Arizona is prioritizing tests for those that are most vulnerable. That includes individuals over the age of 60 and those with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease or diabetes.

The AZDHS’ website lists individuals over 65 account for 4,156 of the tests. Additionally, individuals age 20 to 44 have received the bulk of tests at 10,750.

The state is also prioritizing those who work in the health care field, first responders and critical infrastructure workers.

Rigler noted Arizona is “nowhere near” the top 10 jurisdictions when it comes to rate of cases. Additionally, Arizona’s numbers are in the middle as far as rate of increase when it comes to coronavirus.

“Arizona has about 25 cases per 100,000 population on the state as a whole,” Rigler said. “Places in other parts of country are seeing 30 to 40 cases per 100,000 where you’re seeing those hotspots.”

With limited tests available, they’re advising people continue good hand hygiene and stay home when possible.

“We’re in support that any county that has a case of COVID-19 continues to comply with the executive order to stay home and that’s going to be the best thing that we can do to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our state as well as ensure that we can protect our health care system from a significant surge in COVID cases,” Rigler said.

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

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