Special operations center set up for state health officials to track the coronavirus

Health officials in Arizona are keeping a close watch on the COVID-19 coronavirus, as it continues its rapid spread in China.

When the first case of COVID-19 coronavirus was confirmed in Arizona, a Health Emergency Operations Center was set up, where health officials track the number of cases nationwide to help protect people in Arizona.

This type of center is set up whenever there is a public health concern, like flu or a measles outbreak.

"We all get together in the same room, so that we can have real-time tracking information on the number of cases, what we're following up on, developing technical assistance and guidance, and make sure we're coordinating, from a statewide level, the public health response in Arizona," said Dr. Cara Christ, Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Health officials also take part in webinars with health professionals in other states. They are able to keep up to date on all the very latest information.

"We have our epidemiologists, so those are the people that track the spread of disease through the population. They're in the room with our communications team, our logistics team, so that if they need computers, if they need access to anything, it's all right there, and it doesn't take long to get the resources that we need to be able to respond effectively," said Dr. Christ.

So far, there is still just one confirmed case in Arizona, and Dr. Christ says the risk for Arizonans is low. The center will remain in operation for as long as health officials feel is necessary.