About COVID-19 & FAQs



About COVID-19

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) differs from the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. COVID-19 is a new strain not previously been seen in humans.

Thought to spread mainly from person to person, primarily by droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus produces a variety of  symptoms, sometimes severe, including a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Pima County mandate mask-wearing in public?

Yes. On June 19, 2020 the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution requiring mask-wearing in public when around other people.

Animals and COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus first identified in 2019.

It is part of a larger family of viruses called coronavirus, some of which are in circulation normally and can cause illnesses like the common cold. See the “About the Virus” section of this FAQ for more about this family of viruses. You can learn more about coronavirus disease 2019 at the CDC website.

How does the virus spread?

The virus is thought to spread person-to-person via respiratory droplets that are produced when someone infected with the virus coughs or sneezes. This can occur from direct contact with the droplets or from fomite transmission. Transmission may be slowed by staying at least 6 feet away from others, wearing a mask when out, washing your hands frequently, and staying home when sick.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread is likely before people show symptoms.

How long can the virus that causes COVID-19 survive on surfaces?

A recent study found that SARS-CoV-2 virus can survive on surfaces for variable periods of time, depending on the type of surface. The survival time on surfaces ranged from four hours (copper) to three days (plastic and stainless steel).

To kill the virus on surfaces, use a disinfectant that has been shown to be effective against SARS-CoV-2. A list of approved disinfectants against SARS-CoV-2 can be found on the EPA website. Be sure to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects often, such as counters, tabletops, door knobs, bathroom fixtures, phones, and bedside tables.

Where can I find the latest COVID-19 case count for Arizona?

For number of positive cases in Arizona, please visit the Arizona Department of Health Services website. The number of cases is updated every day at 9 a.m.

Where can I find the latest COVID-19 case count for Pima County?

For number of positive cases in Pima County, please visit the Arizona Department of Health Services website. The number of cases is updated every day at 9 a.m. and the data can be sorted by County. 

Prevention Tips

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Physical distance by staying at least six feet away from others.
  • Wear a mask in public spaces.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. See the "Protect Yourself" tab for more detailed information.

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19.

Who is at higher risk for serious illness?

Those at higher risk for serious illness include older adults, and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease. It is recommended that these individuals practice enhanced prevention strategies.

Testing

Who can get a COVID test?

Criteria on who can get a test vary by testing location. Please visit the ADHS website to find a location near you.

Should I be tested for COVID-19?

Call your healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.

Your healthcare provider will determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

Info About Confirmed Cases

Has COVID-19 reached community-wide spread in Pima County?

Locally, in Pima County, it's best to assume community-spread is happening and take the necessary steps to protect yourself.

What level of information can we disclose regarding positive cases in Pima County?

For all positive cases of COVID-19, we are disclosing the age range of the person and their recovering status, meaning if they are recovering in or out a hospital. Where someone lives, works, got infected, and traveled are all very different. Trying to memorialize “where” the risk was is very difficult and could actually end up misleading. We recognize that people are concerned about areas where they should be cautious. With a virus as contagious as this is proving to be, we recommend that people take precautions everywhere they go. The best thing people can do is practice those prevention and social distancing recommendations they are hearing so much about.

What is the definition of a recovered patient?

Someone who has been released from care and considered a “recovered patient” means the person is no longer sick, has no complications from the illness and is no longer considered contagious.

What is the estimated wait period before someone is considered no longer contagious?

The recommendation is 72 hours symptom-free.

Businesses

How do I report a business safety standard violation?

The Pima County Health Department is encouraging through its inspection process all area restaurants, pools, gyms, fitness centers, hotels and resorts and other business covered by the May 21 Pima County Board of Supervisors Proclamation to adopt minimum public health safety standards during the pandemic. The new rules revise, amend and delete some of the rules passed May 13. You can see all of the standards by type of regulated business here. If a business that should be following these standards is not, you can report it using the COVID-19 Safety Standards Business & Community Reporting form and our Consumer Health Food Safety team will contact the business and provide education and guidance. 

Can Pima County force other non-social gathering businesses to close?

Governor Ducey's Executive Order 2020-36 prohibits local municipalities like cities and counties from making any policies that are in conflict with his order, including ordering businesses to close. 

Are daycares still open?

Yes, day facilities remain open. As long as parents are working, we want families to have access to a safe place for their children to receive care. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) have provided guidance for child care centers to ensure they are able to provide a safe environment. These guidelines include increased sanitation, social distancing, avoiding mixing child care groups, and limiting rooms to 10 individuals when feasible. The full recommendations can be found here:

Are adult care facilities still open?

Yes, at this time there is no directive at this time to close this type of center. Adult day centers are being instructed to practice the same prevention measures as the general community and other facilities by practicing social distancing as much as possible, screening participants for symptoms, practicing good hygiene and cleaning and disinfecting. Adult Day Care Centers are asked to not allow any visitors or non-critical staff.

Are workers in the human and animal food and feed sector considered part of the essential critical infrastructure workforce?

Yes, in a guidance issued by Department of Homeland Security on March 19 Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19, workers in the Food and Agriculture sector – agricultural production, food processing, distribution, retail and food service and allied industries – are named as essential critical infrastructure workers. Promoting the ability of our workers within the food and agriculture industry to continue to work during periods of community restrictions, social distances, and closure orders, among others, is crucial to community continuity and community resilience.

Where should the food industry go for guidance about business operations?

The Pima County Board of Supervisors at a special meeting May 19 voted 3-2 to revise rules for protective measures some businesses should follow during a pandemic. The changes came after extensive feedback from the business community, primarily restaurants, which sought the bulk of the changes to rules first adopted by the Board May 13. Read the May 21 Proclamation for more details on the temporary measures applicable to all restaurants and other dine-in establishments.

Food Supply & Safety

Is the U.S. food supply safe?

Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.

Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. This includes between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. However, it’s always critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill – to prevent foodborne illness.

Will there be food shortages?

There are no nationwide shortages of food, although in some cases the inventory of certain foods at your grocery store might be temporarily low before stores can restock. Food production and manufacturing are widely dispersed throughout the United States and no widespread disruptions have been reported in the supply chain.

FDA is closely monitoring the food supply chain for any shortages in collaboration with industry and our federal and state partners. We are in regular contact with food manufacturers and grocery stores.

Where should I send questions if we are having problems moving food or getting food through areas that have curfews and restrictions because of the coronavirus?

If you are experiencing issues regarding your supply chain, delivery of goods, or business continuity, please contact the FEMA National Business Emergency Operations Center at NBEOC@fema.dhs.gov. This is a 24/7 operation and they can assist in directing your inquiry to the proper contact.

A worker in my food processing facility/farm has tested positive for COVID-19. What steps do I need to take to ensure that the foods I produce are safe?

Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 by food. Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality. Sick employees should follow the CDC’s What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Employers should consult with the local health department for additional guidance.

While the primary responsibility in this instance is to take appropriate actions to protect other workers and people who might have come in contact with the ill employee, facilities should re-double their cleaning and sanitation efforts to control any risks that might be associated with workers who are ill regardless of the type of virus or bacteria. For example, facilities are required to maintain clean and sanitized facilities and food contact surfaces.

See: FSMA Final Rule for Preventive Controls for Human Food.

Food facilities are required to use EPA-registered “sanitizer” products in their cleaning and sanitizing practices.

In addition, there is a list of EPA-registered “disinfectant” products for COVID-19 on the Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 list that have qualified under EPA’s emerging viral pathogen program for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

IMPORTANT: Check the product label guidelines for if and where these disinfectant products are safe and recommended for use in food manufacturing areas or food establishments.

Do I need to recall food products produced in the facility during the time that the worker was potentially shedding virus while working?

We do not anticipate that food products would need to be recalled or be withdrawn from the market because of COVID-19, as there is currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food or food packaging.

Additionally, facilities are required to control any risks that might be associated with workers who are ill regardless of the type of virus or bacteria.

What other resources are available regarding food safety?


Volunteer and Donation Info

What can I do to help my community during the COVID-19 outbreak?

If you are a healthcare provider with an active license, a public health professional, member of a medical disaster response team, or non-health community volunteer willing to be on-call to support Arizona in the event of a disaster, you can help support public health emergency preparedness. Find more info and a registration link at https://esar-vhp.health.azdhs.gov/.

Additionally, the American Red Cross has reported a shortage in blood donations. So, if you’re in a position to give blood, you might consider donating as another option. To schedule an appointment, visit http://rcblood.org/appt

You can also write a note to somebody who is physically-distanced in a long term care facility with the Pima Love Notes project.

Lastly, follow the social distancing recommendations and wear a cloth face covering when in public around others. Health professionals agree that the COVID-19 outbreak is going to take several months to resolve, which means it’s up to us to protect our community.

I would like to organize a food/supply collection site to help our community. Is it OK to do so?

Instead of creating additional gathering places, which can lead to gatherings of more than 10 people, we recommend you volunteer your time or donate supplies ongoing efforts such as the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

Criteria for Reducing Physical Distancing

Is criteria #1 on the Physical Distancing Restrictions a decreasing trend of positive cases or actual decreasing day over day during the 14-day time period?

It’s a clear decrease in the total number of cases over time. We track cases based on the date the specimen is collected, not the day they were reported as positive.

Where can I find the Pima County data that pertains to each category?

On the AZDHS website, mostly. PPE burn rate (how much PPE is used each day per patient) is monitored at the state level as part of Governor Ducey’s enhanced surveillance executive order.

Where can we find historical data of deaths by day in Pima County? That’s not available on AZDHS dashboard.

You’re correct, it’s not available at the moment. We have asked the state to add county date of death trends to the dashboard.

Can we add a date to the flier to keep track of the latest updates?

Yes. As we update the flier, we’ll be sure to add the date it was changed.

How and when will we see this chart updated with new information? Frequency of updates.

Our intent is to update it weekly. The recently created Pima County Back to Business Task Force will likely determine if it needs to be updated with greater frequency.

What is the plan to get the red boxes to yellow and green?

That plan is in place – physical distancing, masks when in public, and Stay At Home – keep the curve flat.

What happens to Pima County’s criteria if the Governor wants a less restrictive reduction?

The County will adjust this plan as necessary based on federal and state guidance.

Why the heavy emphasis on hand washing?

There are numerous studies that show its efficacy in reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

Can we mandate the use of masks in indoor public spaces?

Yes. The Pima County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution requiring cloth face coverings or masks in public places when around others. The requirement in effect for all of Pima County outside of tribal nations. 
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