PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - State and county health officials have spent months gathering information that includes where people are contracting COVID-19. Still, aside from vague references, they have not released any of the details. That protocol continued Wednesday, as Maricopa County's medical director of Disease Control refused to offer any real specifics on locations or types of gatherings, locations or businesses.
"I understand why people want to know where people are getting COVID-19, but it's important to know that COVID-19 is circulating throughout the community," said Rebecca Sunenshine, MD.
Sunenshine says people need to focus on wearing a mask any time they leave their homes and are within 6 feet of someone who is not in their normal household.
She says the County has been contact tracing people with COVID-19 since January when the County's first case was identified. She confirmed that contact tracers gather data on where infected people have been. That information could be released in general terms, such as "family gatherings," "restaurants," "retail establishments," and so on. Not everyone agrees that where people contract the virus is irrelevant.
"Right now in Arizona, patients are getting mixed messages, you know, we've got gyms that are closed. We've got bars that are closed, and yet indoor dining and restaurants are open, casinos are open. And so my patients have been confused about why that is," said Natasha Bhuyan, MD.
She argues that releasing the information about where people are getting the virus would help ordinary people make more informed decisions on where they should and should not go.
The information may also help leaders like Gov. Doug Ducey convince a state that some businesses or places need to be closed, while others can continue to operate.
"if it's based on science and evidence, that's one thing. But we don't have transparency into the contact tracing data so we're not able to make any decisions," said Bhuyan.