/ Modified aug 13, 2020 11:18 a.m.

Improving Arizona COVID-19 trends could drive testing declines, complacency

Experts say states need higher testing rates to gauge and improve COVID-19 responses.

pima co testing Pima County COVID-19 testing at the Kino Events Center, July 13.
Pima County/Flickr

PHOENIX — Coronavirus testing has dropped off dramatically, with the Arizona Department of Health Services reporting less than one-half as many tests in early August as during late June and early July.

Experts say states need higher testing rates to gauge and improve COVID-19 responses.

Yet, even as SonoraQuest and Arizona State University ramp up capacity, fewer people are coming in for testing.

Joshua LaBaer, executive director of Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute, thinks better news is driving worse testing rates.

"I think a lot of that is a response to everyone's observation that the state is improving. That there's fewer cases out there. People are less concerned," he said.

Fewer tests can mean less reliable data. But LaBaer says other indicators like hospitalization rates also reflect positive trends in the state.

However, he did express concern that improving trends might make people complacent.

"They'll get a cough, they'll feel kind of lousy, and they'll think, 'I don't need to get tested.' Or they will go to a gathering of people with some people that they don't know, and they will not think about, 'Maybe I should go get tested,'" he said.

LaBaer said it's important for people with symptoms, and those in public-facing jobs, to continue getting tested.

For more stories from KJZZ, visit kjzz.org

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