Arizona education and health officials held news conference amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Arizona Superintendent for Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman held a news conference on the afternoon of Nov. 9 with Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ.

The news conference took place amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in Arizona in recent weeks. On Nov. 9, state health officials report 259,699 cases of COVID-19 statewide, but in the days prior, the number of new cases was above 1,000.

Related: LIVE Blog: Coronavirus in Arizona - Latest case numbers

With the increase in new COVID-19 cases, FOX 10 has reported that some schools have returned to a hybrid or virtual model of learning. Education advocates have called for a statewide school safety plan to be implemented.

"I think that if the Governor heard stories directly from educators, and directly from parents and students, it will help him understand how dire the situation is in different districts across the state, and potentially how bad it can be entirely across the state," said Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas, in an interview with FOX 10 on Oct. 30.

During the news conference, many issues were brought up, including an update on how schools are handling the pandemic.

Some school superintendents said activities outside of school for the youth have impacted the rate of COVID-19 spreading, citing Halloween and sleepovers and other social gatherings, including club sports. They say transmission is happening on the outside of campus, and not on campus.

For her part, Superintendent Hoffman reminded the public that many Arizona schools, especially those in tribal nation territories, have not reopened for in-person learning or hybrid learning this year.

Mental health is also a concern as so many students are learning from home , and Dr. Christ says there is a critical need for mental health services.

In 2019, 38 total children under 17 died by suicide, but so far in 2020, there are already 43 students who died by suicide, representing an alarming statistic for officials,

As for measures to mitigate the spread, Dr. Christ says data will continue to monitored, and more testing sites will be provided for school communities.

"However, we will also be working with the schools to implement symptomatic testing, as well as contact tracing and outbreak testing with the rapid tests as well, so there’s a whole -- it’s a whole test program that will be established within the pilot districts," said Dr. Christ.

“I’m looking ahead to the next legislative session to be thinking about how can we collaborate with our lawmakers, and really making sure that the schools our education system is considered to be a high priority, that it is one of, if not the most, one of the most essential services that our communities have," said Superintendent Hoffman.

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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)