By Aisha Sander May 12, 2020
On April 13 the State Dept. of Health Services launched a zip code map to help track confirmed cases of COVID-19. If there are less than 10 cases in a zip code the state nor the county will release the exact number. Chris Minnick, from the Public Information Office at the State Dept. of Health Services said, “we do not reveal the exact number of cases when we know that those zip codes have small populations to protect the privacy of the patients.” “Only when a zip code has more than 10 confirmed cases will we release the exact number,” he said.
This makes it difficult for us to say anything conclusively about both 85624 and 85611 zip codes which continue to show up as 1-5 cases on the state map. There also is a lag between the county data and the state data, sometimes up to 4-7 days. For example, on May 12 the county had confirmed 56 cases, but the state website on May 12 still showed 51 cases in Santa Cruz County.
There has been a noticeable increase in the number of cases in Santa Cruz County from May 8 to May 12, from 42 cases to 56. Santa Cruz County Public Health Emergency and Preparedness Director Shelly Jacobs attributes this spike in numbers to an increase in testing, which went from 318 tests from May 6 up to 431 tests by May 9. (The state dashboard lags behind the county on reporting testing, as well as on reporting confirmed cases.) According to the state data two of the confirmed cases from Santa Cruz county have been hospitalized.
Finally, there is the curious case of the family of four from Sonoita who released an anonymous statement in Clare Bonelli’s community newsletter. On April 30 they wrote:
“Our family would like to share with the community the fact that we are local and have tested positive for Covid. We have absolutely no clue where we got it since we have been taking all (and extra) precautions not to get it being we have an at-risk member in our family. We, unfortunately, have quickly learned that this is a very sneaky virus. Our closest friends have been notified. We want the community to know that Covid is here and do not want it to be a big secret. Please take extra precautions and protect yourselves!”
These four cases are still not reflected on the state zip code map for Sonoita zip code 85637. We asked the county if their cases could be in the 85611 zip code but Jacobs confirmed that there was only one case in the 85611 zip code as of May 12. She stated that the Health Department is aware of everyone who tests positive in Santa Cruz County even if they were tested in a neighboring county, for example, in Pima County. When asked why these four cases are not showing up on the county and state data, she said, “Maybe they all were not tested.”
It seems unlikely that the family was not tested, given their statement to the community. We cannot ascertain if the county has been in touch with this family to verify that they have been tested. We would hope that the Health Department would have investigated the possibility that COVID-19 has been identified in Sonoita, but it seems that they have not, given Jacobs’ statements.