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Maricopa County Health Officials: Decline In Testing Not Causing Decline In Cases

Published: Thursday, August 20, 2020 - 12:46pm
Updated: Friday, August 21, 2020 - 9:31am
Kathy Ritchie/KJZZ
Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine

Daily reports of COVID-19 cases are on the decline in Maricopa County, but so are the number of people getting tested for the virus.

County health officials are certain the drop in testing isn’t causing the drop in cases.

Doctor Rebecca Sunenshine, the county’s medical director for disease control, said because community spread is down, fewer people have COVID-like symptoms. So it makes sense that fewer people are seeking out tests.

But other factors, like hospitalizations, offer proof that case reductions aren’t a fluke.

"The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 started to go down just about two weeks after we saw the case counts go down. And that's exactly what we would expect. COVID-19 hospitalizations are not dependent on the number of people who get tested in the community,” Sunenshine said.

Hospitalizations aren’t dependent on the number of people who get tested, she said. That’s because “everyone who's hospitalized with symptoms that are related to COVID-19 automatically get tested, regardless of community availability of testing.”

Sunenshine also pointed to a reduction in the percent of positive tests, down to roughly 9% from a peak of 23%.

“A decreasing percent positivity tells us that the case counts are truly declining,” she said. “If the percent positive had remained stable or increased, that would tell us that there's not enough testing available.”

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