Graham County Public Health Nurse Supervisor Melissa Lunt checks in with a family at Monday morning’s testing of Pima children for the COVID-19 virus.

Three Pima Elementary School children exposed to COVID-19 last week were tested Monday and health officials should receive the results Thursday.

Graham County Health Department Director Brian Douglas said a total of 37 families showed up for the first of three clinics scheduled to be held at Pima Junior High.

However, 34 of the families did not meet the testing criteria because the children were asymptomatic, Douglas said.

"These families received information and guidance on home quarantine and educational material on COVID-19," Douglas said. "For the students not tested, if they do develop a fever and respiratory symptoms they are encouraged to return for testing."

Douglas described the mood as positive and the families as appreciative.

Pima Unified School District Superintendent Sean Rickert said PUSD learned on March 11 a staff member had been exposed to someone with COVID-19 during an out-of-state visit the weekend prior. That staff member had worked with the fifth and sixth graders on March 10 and March 11. The decision was made to keep the school closed on March 12.

The health department is only testing the children exposed – and who are displaying symptoms – because the earliest they could have spread the virus was March 12 – when school was closed.

The staff member is the only person in Graham County to have tested positive thus far.

The health department held the clinic away from a health care setting because officials are doing what they can to minimize the risk of exposure to anyone else.

Although children who get COVID-19 typically only development mild symptoms, the fear is they could spread it to the elderly or those who have underlying health care issues. 

Douglas said he wasn't surprised so many families game to the clinic.

"Families are concerned for the wellbeing of their children. Also, they were looking for additional information and guidance on COVID-19," Douglas said. "This novel virus in new and there are many unknowns."

The more people are educated about the virus, the more confidence they'll have to "cope with the reality of quarantine and self-care at home," he said. "My main message to the community is to stay home. We have to slow the spread of this virus."

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