More COVID-19 testing in AZ

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Arizona Department of Health Services announced Thursday that it has expanded the criteria for getting a coronavirus test.

The newly updated standing order allows testing for anyone who thinks they might have been exposed to COVID-19, even if they are not showing any symptoms.

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Until now, the tests were limited only to high-risk individuals and people with symptoms because of a lack of testing kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care professionals.

The new order comes after local laboratories acquired the supplies needed to perform the additional testing. AZDHS has partnered with those labs to provide additional funding to increase their capacity and has told labs to remove any restrictions on testing if they have adequate testing supplies and PPE.

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The department has also distributed 15 rapid testing machines throughout the state. Those machines give results within 15 minutes.

AZDHS says they are working with the government at both the state and federal levels to try to expand testing to every Arizonan.

Dr. Cara Christ, the director of AZDHS, said Wednesday that Arizona's COVID-19 peak might still a month away. According to data gathered by AZDHS, Arizona State University, and the University of Arizona, the projected peak date for Arizona is around May 22. A federal projection put our peak even later -- about June 11.

Christ said Arizona needs to plan for the worst-case scenario "to make sure every Arizonan can access the level of care they need at the time they need it." She said that's why plans for alternate COVID-19 care sites like the one at the recently defunct St. Luke's Hospital and the Arizona Surge Line, which is meant to prevent a virus surge at any single hospital, are still in the works.

AZDHS also tweeted Thursday that $12.4 million will be coming to Arizona from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "to support the public health response to the #COVID19 outbreak." That money is in addition to the $16.2 million the CDC has provided for Arizona.


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