Over the last several months, ADHS has worked with partners in local public health, healthcare, and community organizations to expand access to community-based COVID-19 testing across the state so that anyone who needs or wants a test can get one. We are currently evaluating existing testing locations and their coverage areas to identify gaps in access to testing that we can fill. We’ve also worked closely with laboratories across the state to improve turnaround times for testing so that Arizonans and public health can rapidly take action on a positive test result. Currently, the majority of test results are available within about 48 hours of specimen collection.
This week, CDC released updated guidance for diagnostic testing. This guidance continues to recommend testing for individuals with COVID-19 symptoms or for those who are asymptomatic but have had recent close contact with a COVID-19 case, but it does not recommend testing for asymptomatic individuals without close contact to a COVID-19 case or for asymptomatic people in high COVID-19 transmission areas.
Because there are adequate testing resources in the state and laboratory turnaround times are now within reasonable timeframes, ADHS continues to recommend that anyone who is concerned that they have been exposed to COVID-19 or infected with the virus seek testing. Continued access to testing will improve public health’s ability to detect asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 and conduct case investigations and contact tracing of these cases to contain further spread. In addition, maintaining community testing availability will allow Arizona to better understand the burden of disease transmission in the community by capturing information about trends in new cases and percent positivity, both of which are important data points to inform mitigation and containment efforts.
Testing sites are available throughout the state and will continue to be added, particularly in areas with minimal testing capacity. As of today, over 400 testing sites are operational across the state, ranging from large-scale drive through testing sites to local drug stores to federally qualified health centers. Most of these sites offer free testing, including saliva-based testing sites run by Arizona State University in Maricopa and Pima counties, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services surge testing sites operating in Coconino County and expanding to Cochise, Mohave, and Yavapai counties. Arizona has the capacity to meet public demand for COVID-19 testing, and it’s important that we continue to ensure that people who need a test can easily access these resources.