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Arizona Needs More COVID-19 Testing To Track Disease, Variants

Joshua LaBaer
Arizona State University
Joshua LaBaer

Much COVID-19 attention currently focuses on vaccine availability.

But with 1,000 new cases daily and new variants entering the state, getting tested remains as important as ever.

Test results save lives, but they also reveal the prevalence and spread of a disease.

If enough people were getting tested, Arizona's positivity rate should be around 5% instead of 12-14%.

Joshua LaBaer of Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute says regular testing also appears to reduce COVID-19 infections.

"We have clearly observed that the more testing we do, the overall lower burden of infections there are. Testing seems to remind people to behave well and you tend to see fewer cases," LaBaer said. 

Testing also lets investigators monitor coronavirus variants, like the California variant, which has reached Arizona, and the UK variant, which now makes up 2% of the state's cases.

Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk from 2016 to 2024.