Ask the Editor: Why isn’t COVID-19 reported by municipality?

Posted 4/1/20

Health officials are reporting new numbers of COVID-19 cases across Arizona every day, broken down by each county.

In Maricopa County, there have been 900 positive cases of the infectious novel …

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Ask the Editor: Why isn’t COVID-19 reported by municipality?

Posted

Health officials are reporting new numbers of COVID-19 cases across Arizona every day, broken down by each county.

In Maricopa County, there have been 900 positive cases of the infectious novel virus.

A reader wrote to the Independent asking, what is the breakdown of cases by city?

Unfortunately, this information is not available for public consumption.

Maricopa County Public Health Spokesperson Jeanene Fowler says it’s not available because it would create a false sense of security, and testing across each city has not been uniform.

Before speaking to Ms. Fowler, I first contacted officials at both the City of Scottsdale and the Town of Paradise Valley, the two communities I cover intimately.

Scottsdale spokesperson Kelly Corsette said because the county is not tracking cases by municipality, the City of Scottsdale did not have access to the number of positive cases there.

Paradise Valley Town Manager Jill Keimach said, “The Town of Paradise Valley can not independently collect or validate COVID-19 data and we do not have data on the number of cases by local jurisdiction, only by county.”

Ms. Fowler says officials knows definitively that COVID-19 is widespread in Maricopa County and all of the cities and towns are impacted.

“Public Health releases data to the public so that residents are able to make good decisions about their health. There are a few reasons why Public Health has concerns with releasing city-by-city information of COVID-19 cases and does not believe it will help residents make an informed decision about their health,” Ms. Fowler said.

First, people may have a false sense of security, she said.

“Residents live in one city and often travel to other cities for work, grocery shopping and healthcare. By releasing the city of residence of each positive case, it remains unclear where the person may have been exposed to the disease,” Ms. Fowler explained.

Secondly, she says testing has not been uniform across the community.

“If more testing is done in any one city, it may appear that there is more disease occurring in one city over another, when actually, there is just more testing,” she said. “What we know for sure is that the COVID-19 is widespread in Maricopa County and all of our cities and towns are impacted.”

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