State Rep. Hernandez said she started feeling sick after leaving the Arizona State Capitol.
"I said well, maybe it’s just a cold or allergies. I decided just to go to the urgent care where I live just to make sure I was ruling anything out. They did test me for strep throat as well as COVID," said State Rep. Hernandez.
The test came back positive for COVID-19.
Hernandez says she was fully vaccinated 11 weeks ago but noted that getting the inoculation does not prevent the infection. She says she continued to take precautions such as wearing a mask, washing her hands and social distancing and urges everyone to do so until the pandemic passes.
Tucson Rep. Alma Hernandez
"My symptoms would be much worse right now if I was not fully vaccinated. I had a fever, I have extreme fatigue right now. I lost my sense of smell and taste, but at the end of the day, I don’t feel bad enough to go and check myself into the hospital. My breathing is fine," said State Rep. Hernandez.
State Rep. Hernandez says she has been casting vote on various bills remotely, and that everyone she came into close contact with at the Capitol has been notified. In addition, she is urging everyone who have been fully vaccinated to not let their guard down, in addition to urging those who have not been vaccinated to get the shot.
"The vaccines are very effective. I happen to be one of the few breakthrough cases that ended up still contracting COVID, but this doesn’t happen with everyone," said State Rep. Hernandez.
Her brother, Democratic Rep. Daniel Hernandez, says he tested negative for the virus but will self-isolate for several days and then take another test.
Rep. Daniel Hernandez
Alma Hernandez is at least the seventh Arizona state lawmaker who has confirmed they contracted the virus. Republican state Sen. David Gowan had the virus in early March.
At least 435 state lawmakers nationwide have tested positive for the disease and seven have died, according to a tally by The Associated Press.
Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers
Breakthrough cases have been reported in Arizona
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breakthrough cases, also known as vaccine breakthrough cases, are cases involving people who contracted a disease after they are exposed to the virus that caused it.
"For any vaccines, there are breakthrough cases. With effectiveness of 90 percent or higher, a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will still get sick and some may be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. It’s also possible that some fully vaccinated people might have infections, but not have symptoms (asymptomatic infections)," read a CDC website.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, there have been 947 confirmed breakthrough cases so far out of more than 2.2 million fully vaccinated Arizonans. Of the breakthrough cases, 70% of them have experienced symptoms, and 16% of them were hospitalized.
"We know that no vaccine is 100% effective," said Dr. Michael White, Chief Medical Officer for Valleywise Health. "It's really preventing what we’re looking for: hospitalization and maybe severe complications, such as the long haulers things with COVID, and worst possible outcome of death."
According to state data, 60% of breakthrough cases received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, 32% received Moderna, and 8% received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
"The majority of vaccines have been administered have been the Pfizer vaccine, so in that case, due to the number of people vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, we will likely see the breakthrough numbers be higher in that class as well," said Dr. White.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Monitor your health daily
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.
To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.
And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.
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