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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

The Arizona Medical Association (ArMA) is continuing to hear from physicians within the community. We have put together this page to address some of the questions and concerns of Arizona's physicians. We ask that you continue to reach out to ArMA as we continue working with stakeholders to address your needs. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is being done to combat PPE shortage?

We have heard from numerous practices in all settings expressing concern about the lack of personal protection equipment (PPE). We have communicated that concern to the Arizona Health Department as well as the Governor. ADHS is actively working on options to get additional equipment through various sources, but expectations for sufficient resupply are currently low. PPE should be used in a judicial manner.

Guidance from ADHS at this point is as follows:

  1. Continue to work through your current suppliers if possible;
  2. Connect with your county health department to alert them to your practice's PPE shortage. Please be aware that any dissemination of PPE from county health departments will be done on a priority needs basis. 
  3. Become familiar with the CDC PPE Strategies for optimizing the Supply of PPE: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/index.html

Physicians are encouraged to implement contingency plans to address when / if you run out of supplies and consider:

  • Telemedicine options
  • Cohorting patients

How are we preparing for hospital bed shortage and influx of admitted patients?

ADHS is monitoring bed availability through EMResource; a tool that is updated daily and to which all hospitals have access. Under the Enhanced Surveillance, this data is now required to be completed by facilities.

ADHS is looking at all options to increase current capacity for beds in licensed facilities including:

  • Researching systems for monitoring low acuity patients from home.
  • Looking at changes that would waive some licensing restrictions to increase bed capacity within facilities.
  • Evaluating surge approaches for hospitals and ICUs.
  • Exploring alternative care sites.

What is Happening with Access to COVID-19 Testing?

We are seeing intermittent supply issues across the country when it comes to both test sample collection materials and testing kits. The state is actively working to increase both the testing volume and address the material shortage.

As new testing sites are made available, these will be shared on the ADHS and ArMA websites.

What is the Clinical Management for COVID-19?

Clinical management should be per normal protocols and approaches to viral pneumonia. There is no specific FDA-treatment for COVID-19. Given the national and state resources for COVID-19 testing, clinicians are being advised at this time to approach patient management in the following manner:

  • For patients presenting with mild symptoms: patients are recommended to remain at home for at least 72 hours AFTER symptoms have resolved.
  • For patients presenting with emergent symptoms: patients will need to seek medical attention and be managed per normal respiratory illness protocol.
  • Making clinical management decisions based solely on COVID-19 test results may not be prudent. 

NOTE: The WHO recommends avoiding the use of corticosteroids for patients with severe acute respiratory infection when COVID-19 disease is suspected, for prolonging viral replication as observed in MERS-CoV patients, unless indicated for other reasons (e.g. COPD exacerbation, septic shock).

Patients who do not meet clinical criteria for inpatient admission should be sent home with instructions for home isolation, social distancing, and return precautions. 

How do we Handle Physician Exposure to COVID-19?

Healthcare workers (HCW) who are exposed to probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19 should monitor themselves for symptoms. Exposed HCWs can continue to work as long as they are asymptomatic. 

If healthcare personnel have a known exposure to COVID-19, considerations include:

  • IF options to improve staffing have been exhausted and the occupational health program permits, consider continuing to work while asymptomatic.
  • IF there is enough personal equipment supply, consider wearing a facemask while at work for the 14 days after the exposure.

If personnel develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (e.g., fever or respiratory symptoms), they must:

  • Cease patient care activities.
  • Put on a facemask immediately (if not already wearing).
  • Notify their supervisor or occupational health services prior to leaving work.

Staff members should be excluded from work if symptomatic with respiratory illness.

  • If staff have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting results, they should remain under home isolation precautions.
  • If staff have tested positive for COVID-19, they should remain under home isolation precautions for 7 days from specimen collection OR until 72 hours after fever is gone and symptoms of acute infection resolve, whichever is longer.
  • If staff have fever with cough or shortness of breath and have tested negative for COVID-19, they should stay home away from others until 72 hours after fever is gone and symptoms of acute infection resolve.
  • If staff have other non-compatible symptoms and have not been tested for COVID-19, they should stay home until 24 hours after all symptoms are gone without the use of medicine.
  • If staff have fever with cough or shortness of breath and have not been tested for COVID-19, they should stay home away from others until 72 hours after fever is gone and symptoms of acute infection resolve.

How is funding being prioritized to help with COVID-19?

The initial funds that were released from Governor Ducey’s emergency declaration are being utilized to increase the capacity of the state lab and public information messaging. An additional $12.4 million will be coming through grant funding and be distributed to maintain current state government and county public health operations. The $55 million through the state legislation recently passed is still being assessed through the state to determine most appropriate dissemination of funds.

Can retired physicians volunteer to help in places of need?

ArMA is currently collecting information of medical students and retired physicians who are interested in volunteering in the near future. You can fill out our quick survey if you are interested.