Amid surge in cases, Arizona readies new push to slow COVID-19 spread

Amid a new push to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Arizona, state officials are promising more tests and faster results.

As part of an operation named "Project Catapult," state officials are throwing money at the problem. $1 million has been earmarked to ramp up testing, trying to play catch up to a virus that is spreading faster than the efforts to stop it.

Health expert speaks

Testing is the pillar to building a strong defense against COVID-19: to know who has it and, along with contact tracing, to see where it’s going and hopefully get ahead of it.

"It helps every bit of the response, and if it’s bad, your pyramid is crumbling," said Former Arizona State Health Director Will Humble.

Under Project Catapult, the state, along with Sonora Quest Labs, have an aim to ramp up testing from 6,000 a day to 35,000 test a day by the end of July, and 60,000 a day by the end of August.

"What we’ve got right now is increasing supply of test, and demand is going through the roof because of lack of decisions that were made in early June when they could’ve made a huge difference," said Humble.

Humble went on to say adequate testing would keep the state in step with the spread of the virus, help with isolation and quarantines, infections in nursing homes, and enable contact tracing efforts.

Without it, Humble says crisis mode will be the new norm.

"If we do a good job with it, then we can have our economy back, keep this thing to a low boil until we get a vaccine," said Humble. "If we mess it up, especially if the testing isn’t solid, then we’re just gonna be in crisis mode until Christmas."

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On, you'll find extensive coverage about COVID-19, including breaking news from around the country, exclusive interviews with health officials, and informative content from a variety of public health resources.

COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)