By Erin Brassey, Foothills Focus Contributing Writer
COVID-19 cases continue to rise sharply in Peoria.
On Easter, the Arizona Department of Health Services released a COVID-19 ZIP code map showing Peoria 85382 with 61 positive cases.
One week later, Peoria 85382 had 99 positive COVID-19 cases—the most of any ZIP code in the state. The striking 62% rise gave 98532 one more positive test than Mesa 85206 and a few more than Tucson 85714.
The state map includes a disclaimer: “If the patient’s address was unknown the case was mapped to the address of the provider followed by the address of the reporting facility.”
For that reason, Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat challenged the accuracy of this data.
“Unfortunately, this data appears imperfect, as noted by the AZDHS website,” Carlat said. “Due to this discrepancy, I’ve pressed the governor’s office to provide more accurate data.”
Some residents agree.
“The number of cases doesn’t really tell us much,” Peoria resident Jay Griffin said. “Data is just data to me at this point.”
Another Peoria ZIP code, 85383, just north of 85382, had 19 COVID-19 positive tests on Easter. The number there rose to 28 a week later.
The Glendale-North Phoenix 85308 ZIP code east of 85382 had 32 cases as of April 19. North Phoenix ZIP codes 85310 and 85083 both had six to 10 positive COVID-19 cases April 19, with 11 cases in 85085.
North Phoenix-Cave Creek ZIP code 85331 had 14 cases April 19, with one to five cases in Carefree 85377, according to the state map.
The 85086 ZIP code, which includes parts of North Phoenix, Anthem and New River, had 24 positive COVID-19 test results as of April 19.
New River 85087 had one to five cases, according to the state map.
There had been no case reported in Black Canyon City 85324.
Banner Health has collected 1,000 samples for COVID-19 testing its Peoria drive-thru site as of April 17, according to Rebecca Armendariz, Banner Health senior marketing director. Banner Health has two other drive-thru test sites in the Valley.
Other medical centers in or near the 85382 ZIP code providing testing include Summa Health Care and MedPost Urgent Care.
There had been 49,230 tests conducted in Arizona as of Saturday. Of these tests, 30,344 had been conducted in Maricopa County, which is almost 62% of all testing in Arizona.
Due to limited number of tests, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided guidelines for helping people decide if they need to seek medical attention and be tested. It is recommended that people only come to be tested if they are experiencing extreme symptoms including high fever, difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain or pneumonia.
Those unsure about getting tested should call their primary care physicians or the Maricopa County COVID-19 hotline at 1-844-542-8201.
After deciding whether it is necessary to seek medical attention or not, everyone seeking medical attention should call the medical center they are planning to go to so the workers can prepare to reduce the spread of symptoms.
To be tested at Banner Health drive-thru sites, patients with symptoms should call 1-844-549-1851 for a phone consultation.
According to bannerhealth.com, walk-in tests are not permitted.
“By scheduling in advance, we can avoid extended wait times at the collection sites and can safely get people in and out of those sites as quickly as possible,” Armendariz said.
Although Banner Health is encouraging anyone with symptoms to be tested, it does have a list of priority-level patients when it is scheduling appointments for testing.
These include high-risk workers such as health care workers and first responders, critical infrastructure workers such as water and power, and people in congregate living situations such as nursing homes.
According to a map of cases by ZIP code, many areas in the West Valley have more than 10 cases.
Glendale ZIP codes and other ZIP codes near 85382 have between six and 38 positive cases, according to the map.
The 85382 population, according to citydata.com and towncharts.org, is around 40,000, or about 0.8% of Maricopa County’s population of 4.5 million.
Yet, the 99 positive tests in 85382 represented 4% of the 2,591 positive tests in the county.
Though testing shows more positive cases every day, the rate of growth of positive COVID-19 tests has slowed since Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order.
“I just want people to stay home, practice good hygiene and work together to get through this as fast as we can,” said Jessika Jaye, a Peoria resident.