Testing kit shortages mean restrictions in Pima County

Testing kit shortages mean restrictions in Pima County
In this Wednesday, March 11, 2020 file photo, a technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York's Long Island. A series of missteps at the nation's top public health agency caused a critical shortage of reliable laboratory tests for the coronavirus, hobbling the federal response as the pandemic spread across the country like wildfire, an Associated Press review found. (Source: AP Photo/John Minchillo/AP)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Testing is still lagging behind needs according to Dr. Francisco Garcia, the Director and Chief Medical Officer for Pima County.

“Until we have sufficient collection media and swabs, our testing won’t be sufficient," said Dr. Garcia.

Without proper testing, it’s impossible to know how many cases there are in Pima County, which, according to state numbers stands at 25.

That number includes the first death in Pima County, which was announced late Monday, March 23.

Garcia says most of those have already left the hospital.

He also says about 80 percent of the people stricken with the virus will not need to be tested.

Because of the shortage, testing is now restricted to the very sick, first responders and medical personnel.

The low numbers means Arizona is classified as a moderate state but that might be subject to change.

“It means we’re in the early part,” Dr. Garcia said, “I know there is more to come, I don’t know if that’s five, 10 or a 100 cases but I know there’s more to come.”

Without an accurate count, it becomes difficult or nearly impossible to develop a strategy to combat it.

The hospitals, he says, have done a good job even though they face shortages of equipment such as masks and surgical gowns.

The state has received its first shipment of supplies from the federal arsenal and will ship them to the counties, but at this point, the county is not sure how much it will get because it hasn’t received them yet.

It won’t know whether it meets their needs until they open the boxes.

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