ARIZONA NEWS

Doctor: Schools ignoring benchmarks may trigger another COVID-19 spike

Aug 10, 2020, 4:35 AM

PHOENIX — A pediatric infectious disease specialist encourages Arizona school districts to meet all the health benchmarks recommended by state health officials before bringing students back on campus.

“A school district that ignores the benchmarks and decides to open regardless, they have to be prepared to accept that they may be triggering a third surge,” said Dr. Sean Elliot, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and a professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. “There’s a social responsibility here, and I would hope they’re considering that.”

For schools that decide to reopen despite not meeting all the benchmarks, Elliot said he hopes they’re “being quite robust in their preparation efforts.” That includes increasing ventilation in buildings, limiting school activities and reducing class sizes.

He said the health benchmarks released last week by the state’s health department are meant to guide schools on when “it may be appropriate to reopen for in-person learning.”

State health officials recommend three benchmarks be reached in the county where the schools are located.

Those benchmarks are a COVID-19 test positivity rate of 7% or less for two consecutive weeks, a two-week decline in the number of new cases and less than 10% of hospital visits related to the coronavirus.

None of the state’s counties meet all of those benchmarks, which Elliott said are not as “conservative” as in other states.

He noted that while state health officials are recommending a 7% positivity rate for COVID-19 tests before schools can reopen, other states are recommending 5%. New York City is using 3% as its benchmark.

Similarly, other states are setting a 5% benchmark for hospital visits related to COVID-19 illnesses while Arizona health officials are recommending 10%.

“The real key, though, is a steady decrease in the number of new cases for at least two seven-day periods,” Elliott said. “This means it becomes safer and safer as we do a better and better job of limiting our spread of disease in Arizona.”

He added it’s important to keep in mind that the benchmarks are recommendations and are not mandatory. The final decision on when to reopen will be up to school district leaders with consultation from their county health departments.

“I’m hoping that they’re thoroughly intending to abide by those benchmarks,” he said.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

An election worker removes tabulated ballots to be boxed inside the Maricopa County Recorders Offic...
Associated Press

GOP-controlled Cochise County refuses to certify 2022 election

Officials in a rural Arizona county refused Monday to certify the 2022 election ahead of the deadline amid pressure from prominent Republicans to reject a vote count
12 hours ago
(Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Screenshot)...
KTAR.com

Watch: Maricopa County meets to canvass 2022 general election

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is meeting to canvass the 2022 general election. The livestreamed meeting includes public comments.
12 hours ago
Drummer Lars Ulrich (L) and frontman James Hetfield of Metallica perform at Allegiant Stadium on Fe...
Kevin Stone

Metallica to invade State Farm Stadium with pair of ‘No Repeat’ shows in 2023

Nothing else will matter for metro Phoenix metalheads next year when Metallica brings a double shot of headbanging to State Farm Stadium.
12 hours ago
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)...
KTAR.com

Man found shot, dead inside car parked on Phoenix street

A man with a gunshot wound was found dead inside a vehicle Sunday in Phoenix and police said they're investigating the case as a homicide.
12 hours ago
(Facebook photo / Phoenix Police Department)...
SuElen Rivera

Interim Phoenix police chief unveils 4-part plan to improve department

Interim Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan announced last week a four-pronged plan to reduce and prevent crime in the city.
12 hours ago
Follow @KTAR923...
KTAR.com

Ice skating returns to downtown Phoenix at CityScape

Skaters can waltz around the downtown Phoenix rink as CitySkate returns just in time for the holidays this week.
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Doctor: Schools ignoring benchmarks may trigger another COVID-19 spike