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Top Arizona health official discusses path to reopen state’s economy

(Getty Images/Matias Delacroix)

PHOENIX — Arizona Department of Health Services Assistant Director Jessica Rigler discussed on Wednesday some of the criteria her department considers necessary for the state’s economy to begin reopening.

“We’d like to see a continued decrease in the rate of positive cases as well as hospitalizations … associated with COVID-19,” Rigler told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

In terms of reopening Arizona’s economy, the state health department does not have a specific numerical goal regarding overall case count due to a lack of widespread testing capabilities, according to Rigler.

“There are a lot of other factors that will need to come into a public health recommendation for that decision,” Rigler added.

She said further considerations would include increased testing capabilities, following up on coronavirus patients and their potential contacts, and accounting for the patient capacities of state hospitals.

Rigler said that AZDHS is currently working on adding metrics to its website regarding the number of Arizonans who have recovered from coronavirus, but noted that such data can be difficult to quantify.

“A gold standard for identifying ‘recovered’ is testing everyone who has been sick to find out if they still have the virus in their system, and that’s really not something that’s plausible,” she continued.

“When we’re putting out metrics around recovery, it will really be looking out a certain number of days after infection and comparing the people who have been infected against our death certificate database.”

Arizonans who have recovered from coronavirus are not being retested due to a lack of testing capabilities, according to Rigler.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jeremy Foster contributed to this report.

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