SAN TAN VALLEY. Ariz. - Officials with a school district in the far East Valley say they are closing one of their schools due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement released Oct. 14, officials with the J.O. Combs Unified School District say they were informed on the same day that individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 have visited Combs High School, most recently on Oct. 13.
"Upon notifying the Pinal County Public Health Department, we were directed by public health officials to temporarily close Combs High School beginning Thursday, October 15, 2020 until October 27, 2020 at the earliest," read a portion of the statement.
Officials say the decision to close Combs High School was made by the Pinal County Public Health Department due to the number of staff and students required to quarantine, and not the number of positive cases reported.
About 450 students and 20 staff members were told to quarantine while the larger school district investigates what is considered an outbreak.
School district officials did not say exactly how many people diagnosed with COVID-19 have visited Combs High School, citing privacy reasons, but did say Combs High School officials have identified two or more individuals who are confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19, which, in the definition of Pinal County health officials, is an outbreak.
Arizona reported 1,113 new cases of COVID-19 on Oct. 15 and 17 new deaths. That brings the total number of cases in the state to 228,748 and deaths to 5,789.
Combs High School is located in the San Tan Valley area, and it is the second high school in the area to close as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On Oct. 11, FOX 10 reported that health officials in Pinal County have identified a cluster of COVID-19 cases at San Tan Foothills High School, prompting the school to implement an on-site closure that will last until at least Oct. 21.
Schools in Pinal County are currently operating under a hybrid model, due to a health model showing moderate spread in the county.
Meanwhile, free drive-thru testing is available at the Combs High School parking lot.
Parent speaks out
"It's frustrating just because you don't wanna say 'I told you so,'" said Veronica Obregon, whose child attends Combs High School. "In our own family, we've lost a couple of family members. We have educators in our family. We have nursing professionals in our family, so we kinda have seen all sides of it."
Now, Obregon must monitor her children for symptoms. She said COVID-19 safety guidelines are difficult to enforce on campus, and says the community needs to take notice.
"It's just this huge ripple effect that despite the one or two cases, it just has to be studied, and I think taken more seriously," said Obregon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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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.
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