Coconino County Board of Supervisor Jim Parks has isolated himself from the community after possibly coming into contact with the coronavirus on a lobbying trip to Washington D.C.
Parks announced he had decided to isolate himself during a Coconino County Board Meeting focusing on the coronavirus on Tuesday. Parks said he shook hands with U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar, who has also self-isolated himself after confirming he had met with a patient who has contracted the coronavirus. County health officials told Parks that his case is considered “low risk” because Gosar has not shown any symptoms at this time.
Gosar said he met someone at the Conservative Political Action Committee in Maryland last month who has now been hospitalized for COVID-19. On March 8, Gosar said he would remain at his home in Arizona for 14 days to see if any coronavirus symptoms emerge, but said neither he nor his staff had exhibited symptoms.
Parks appeared by phone at the meeting and later told the Arizona Daily Sun that he is not sick, nor is he showing any symptoms similar to respiratory illness. His decision was purely precautionary.
“If there was even a very slim chance that I could pass that on to someone, I wanted to isolate myself. That’s what I’ve done,” Parks said.
Although fear about the possible spread of the coronavirus has hit Flagstaff, as people flock to the stores for hand sanitizer, masks and other products, county officials said the risk for widespread infection is low. County officials said even if one person had a confirmed case of COVID-19, it would take multiple cases to raise the county's risk level.
Officials added that people who are worried about having coronavirus should only call their local health care provider if they have symptoms similar to a respiratory illness.
Trish Lees, spokeswoman for the county health department, told the Arizona Daily Sun that the U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends that direct contacts of COVID-19 should be quarantined for 14 days.
Parks, who is considered a secondary contact, is not required to be quarantined.
“Representative Gosar is not currently symptomatic and may or may not have contracted the virus,” Lees said, as Gosar continues his 14-day isolation. “If he does become sick and test positive for the virus, the potential for him to have passed it to Supervisor Parks is low.”
Parks understands that his case is low risk, but felt he wanted to exercise extreme caution.
"I don’t want to be that guy that brings the coronavirus to Flagstaff," Parks said.
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