By Bob Hembree
Lake Powell Chronicle
PAGE – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, along with the Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara M. Christ, on Monday gave a COVID-19 update and answered questions from the media.
People over 60 years old and those with preexisting conditions, such as diabetes, heart conditions or respiratory illnesses, are at the greatest risk of COVID-19.
Christ said, “We would recommend taking those general respiratory illness precautions and act like everyone has it (COVID-19).”
She also advised against traveling in close quarter situations, such through busses and airlines unless necessary.
Christ said, “I would recommend that my mother or my grandmother not take that trip at this time.”
Although there are only six known cases in Arizona at this time, it’s expected to increase, possibly in the thousands. It’s difficult to measure because it’s estimated 80% of people who get COVID-19, have mild symptoms, like a cold. They may not know they have it, so may unwittingly spread it to others.
According to the World Health Organization, because the virus spreads through droplets from coughing, sneezing or excited talking, people should stay at least three feet away from people who sneeze or cough."
Christ recommends twice the distance; it’s better to keep a social distance of six feet.
She said, “It’s the close proximity that increases your risk and the amount of time that you spend in that close proximity that increases your risk.”
For now, AZDHS is not recommending canceling mass gatherings “unless they are serving a high-risk population.”
When asked if it was safe to eat in Chinese restaurants, Christ said, “There is no public health recommendation to avoid Chinese or Asian restaurants at this time. If you enjoy going to one and you’re comfortable eating there on a normal basis, keep enjoying the food.”
Some restaurants have taken precautionary measures. Gone West in Page, Arizona, has setup Purell stands for customers. One employee told the Lake Powell Chronicle that staff are on top of keeping their hands clean throughout their shifts.
COVID-19 seeks the lungs. That’s where it can replicate. This is why people should avoid touching their faces unless hands are cleaned first. It makes it easier for the virus to reach its target. In restaurants, avoid counters and things a lot of people touch, like saltshakers or utensils used in salad bars. Door handles are also a concern. These situations are difficult to avoid, so it’s best to carry an alcohol-based cleaner or wipes as a precaution, especially for those in the high-risk groups. Handshaking is out. Touch elbows flash a peace sign, or some other form of greeting.
COVID-19 tests are available at AZDHS now. They can test around 450 people a day. Commercial testing through LabCorp and Quest will also become available in Arizona. Medicare and Medicaid will cover testing costs. Private insurance may have different policies. One reporter caught Ducey and Christ off guard, asking about people without insurance.
Christ said, “For uninsured I’m not sure. That may be something that we need to reach out through public health.”