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New COVID-19 test could be coming to Pima County

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TUCSON - Health officials said a new COVID-19 test could be coming to Pima County on Tuesday.

The new test involves a saliva sample rather than a nasal swab.

This type of test has been used in other counties in Southern Arizona, including Maricopa County. They used the new test on its first responders.

The Arizona State University Biodesign Institute created a "tube straw kit." This test comes with a test tube and a straw.

Dr. Francisco Garcia, the chief medical officer for Pima County. He said this new test is all-around easier for everyone.

"Some people find the normal nasal swab uncomfortable," Garcia said. "The patient might cough because of the test which could spread the virus. With the new test, people administering the test won't have to wear PPE."

Garcia said the main reason behind this test is to increase testing around Southern Arizona.

Dr. Theresa Cullen, director of the Pima County Health Department, said right now, there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases in Pima County.

Cullen added that bed space is filling up at the hospitals. She said the data is not always 100 percent correct.

"The data is in flux," Cullen said. "The numbers sometimes lag a couple of weeks because of how the long it takes for people to get sick from the virus."

Garcia said he wants the public to know that even though the state of Arizona is opening back up, the pandemic is not over.

"If this were a marathon, we are only on mile five," Garcia said.

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Austin Walker

Austin is a Reporter at KVOA News 4 Tucson. He graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in May of 2020.

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