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ASU health expert pushes for more consistent coronavirus testing

(Facebook Photo/ASU Biodesign Institute)

PHOENIX –  As coronavirus cases continue to surge in Arizona and across the country, a prominent health expert at Arizona State University is urging the public to take advantage of testing resources to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Biodesign Institute Director Dr. Joshua LaBaer said in a press conference Wednesday that Arizona is not doing enough testing, which is a big part of containing the coronavirus.

“This virus largely transmits from people who don’t know they’re infected and the only way to find it and the only way to stop it is testing, and we are not doing enough testing in the state,” LaBaer said.

He advocated that people, especially those who meet with new people everyday, should consider getting tested once a week to make sure they’re not asymptomatic or that they haven’t contracted the virus after a potential exposure.

“If you think you’ve been exposed to someone who is positive, the best time to get tested is around four days after that exposure,” LaBaer said.

While waiting for a test result, LaBaer reminded people that they should be isolating as they await the result. If they do test positive, they should also be quarantining until they officially test negative.

Currently, Arizona is seeing cases double about every 2 1/2 weeks, and more stringent adherence to mitigation methods, like proper mask use and social distancing, are needed to bring these numbers down.

On Wednesday, Arizona health officials reported 2,030 new coronavirus cases and 36 additional deaths. The rolling seven-day average for the state health department’s newly reported cases shot up to 1,902.14 for Tuesday, according to tracking by The Associated Press, 296% higher than the Oct. 1 mark of 480 and the highest since Aug. 5.

The mitigation guidance is more pertinent as people start to gather for the upcoming holidays and as out-of-state travelers make their way to Arizona for the winter.

Annually, Arizona’s hospitals see more patients in the winter because of cold and flu season as well as snow birds. Hospitals are already preparing for an influx of patients, but health experts hope the public can bring the COVID-19 cases down to avoid putting a strain on the health care system.

LaBaer stressed that there is no limit on the number of free tests that somebody can get from Arizona State. Appointments for saliva testing can be made online through the Arizona Department of Health Services website.

For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

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

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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