Pima County Health Department Director Dr. Theresa Cullen has tested positive for COVID-19, part of an apparent outbreak within the department.
“This just goes to prove that when there is substantial community spread of the virus like we’re experiencing now throughout the county, the virus can get into your homes and places of work any number of ways no matter how vigilant you are being with your precautions,” said County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia in a press release today.
County investigators are currently working on contact tracing for the source of the outbreak. However, PCHD admits contact tracing will be difficult after dozens of people, many of whom were not wearing masks, entered their building on Dec. 10 to protest recent COVID-19 protection and enforcement actions by the health department.
Cullen is one of more than 300 of the nearly 7,000 Pima County employees who’ve tested positive for coronavirus since February, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry shared with the Board of Supervisors this week. Nearly 60 county employees tested positive in the last two weeks alone, the release says.
“The effects of this outbreak at the Health Department will be a significant challenge but it is one we are able to handle,” Garcia said in a prepared statement. “We have redundant capacity in staffing and facilities, and this will not affect our ability to continue to our mission protecting public health or the Health Department’s vital role in the struggle to control and end the spread of COVID-19 in Pima County.”
As of Dec. 15, COVID-19 cases in the county had reached 13,589—2,554 more cases than reported in all of November. Last week saw 70 coronavirus deaths, according to a memorandum from County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.