21 metro Phoenix schools have reported COVID-19 outbreaks

Oct 13, 2020, 2:39 PM | Updated: 3:10 pm
(Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)
(Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Twenty-one Phoenix-area schools have reported COVID-19 outbreaks after resuming on-campus instruction, with 19 remaining active, the region’s top health official said Tuesday.

However, Maricopa County Executive Director of Public Health Marcy Flanagan told KTAR News 92.3 FM that the number of outbreaks, and the term itself, shouldn’t be reason for alarm.

“I would say don’t panic if you start hearing that outbreaks are increasing in schools,” she said.

“You don’t need to think that this is going to be an automatic that your child is going to be sick, but certainly remind your child about good hand hygiene and wearing their mask and all those important things that they can do to help protect themselves.”

Flanagan said parents should pay attention to information sent out by their schools, not online forums or other chatter, and heed all instructions.

An outbreak is defined as two or more confirmed coronavirus cases who were in contact with one another but not from the same household.

An outbreak is considered officially closed when a school goes 28 days without a new case, Flanagan said.

Government officials don’t reveal which schools have seen outbreaks, but Flanagan said the impacted campuses have reported 77 coronavirus cases. The county’s data dashboard shows that 51 cases are students and 26 are staff.

“Even if you just did basic math and said it was even across all the board, that’s not a lot of cases per school,” Flanagan said.

Arizona public schools are required to report outbreaks to their communities and county health departments within 24 hours.

Flanagan said the threshold is low for what’s considered an outbreak because the school setting can be conducive to rapid spread if steps aren’t taken quickly.

“It allows us to work closely with the schools, the nurses, the administration to identify additional cases and implement control measures,” she said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.

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21 metro Phoenix schools have reported COVID-19 outbreaks