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Top Arizona health official clarifies state’s new coronavirus information

(Getty Images/David Ramos)

PHOENIX — Arizona Department of Health Services Assistant Director Jessica Rigler addressed the new coronavirus information released by her department on Sunday.

AZDHS has made public enhanced information on COVID-19 patients including the number of cases by zip code.

There are 112 zip codes with “Greater Than 10″ confirmed cases and 32 zip codes are labeled has having ‘Suppressed Data.”

A Peoria zip code — 85382 — currently has the most coronavirus cases at 69 while many counties have zero reported cases or between one and five.

“The zip code map is informative to an extent, but it doesn’t show you the complete picture,” Rigler told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.

Rigler added that AZDHS will continue to provide the zip code location data of coronavirus patients, but that the department does not always have access to patients’ residency information.

“If there isn’t a residential address established through the laboratory report that is sent or through further investigation by the county, then we’re mapping instead to the location of the … ordering provider for that laboratory,” she said.

This accounts for some of the hot spot coronavirus clusters in Arizona, according to Rigler.

Laboratory reports also do not include race or ethnic data of coronavirus patients, which Rigler said accounts for AZDHS categorizing such details as unknown for 63% of confirmed cases and 49% of deaths.

She added that county health departments do not always collect race and enthnic information when conducting investigations into reports forwarded by state health departments.

Rigler also said additional information on the coronavirus outbreak in Arizona will be made available to the public.

“We are working right now to augment our reporting so that we can put some more public information out regarding outbreaks in congregate settings like long term care.”

Rigler doubts that specific facilities with large numbers of COVID-19 cases will be reported publicly.

Monday morning, AZDHS reported an increase of 163 new coronavirus cases, bringing the state total to 3,539 with a death toll of 122.

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