PHOENIX - The amount of people taking COVID-19 tests is down across Arizona, and this is a trend experts are worried about because of the asymptomatic spread and the lack of contact tracing as a result.
Doctors say the trend has happened throughout the pandemic. Every time we see cases go up, testing does too, but now the opposite is happening.
When we have lower case numbers and less testing, doctors say the testing needs to continue. As of Feb. 21, the trend for testing continues to go down in the state.
According to the Arizona Department of Health dashboard, in Maricopa County, the highest amount of tests collected in January was just over 20,000.
For February, the highest was at the beginning of the month with just over 12,000, but that number continues to lower.
"We need testing to stay up whether or not we have a widespread or a few cases, that is when you can actually get to contact tracing," says Dr. Shad Marvasti, Director of Public Health at the University of Arizona.
Because the state cannot properly conduct the contact tracing and it is almost impossible to get an accurate read on the spread that is happening, Shad says, "This is a concerning trend throughout the pandemic."
He says, "The critical reason it is so important to get tested is because asymptomatic spread is huge. Over 60% of the spread is asymptomatic spread."
The reason for the lower testing isn’t the demand, says Dr. Cara Christ, Director of Arizona's Department of Health Services.
She says testing is available.
"We still have the same amount of testing we had back in November, December, January. It is just people now seeking out that testing," Christ said.
Doctors say more needs to be done on a state and local level in terms of a comprehensive testing strategy. They believe public-facing workplaces should be tested on a regular basis, same with anyone continuing to socialize with anyone outside of their home or traveling.