PHOENIX — A Pinal County McDonald's restaurant closed temporarily after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus March 9, but is open and operating now after following health department guidelines, company officials said.
The case is one of 36 positive cases reported so far in the county since the outbreak began, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
According to information posted by the state health department Friday morning, there have now been 13 deaths in Arizona attributed to COVID-19 and 665 confirmed cases reported statewide.
The owner of the McDonald's in San Tan Valley released a statement Thursday.
“Our highest priority is to protect the health and well-being of our people. We recently learned that an employee at our restaurant in San Tan Valley, AZ has tested positive for the coronavirus and is currently under medical care," owner/operator Catherine Sanchez said in a statement published by AzFamily.com.
"As soon as we were notified of the confirmed case, we immediately closed the restaurant to conduct a thorough sanitization procedure. Additionally, we identified and reached out to all restaurant staff who had been in contact with the employee who contracted the virus and followed the direction of local public health authorities."
A company spokesman said no other employees tested positive for the virus.
The reported figures significantly undercount the true number of infections in Arizona. State officials say there is a shortage of testing supplies and have reserved tests for older people and those with underlying health conditions who are most likely to face severe complications.
Dr. Cara Christ, the state's top health official, has asked doctors to discourage testing as a diagnostic tool. She says treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is the same as any other respiratory infection, so confirming a patient has the disease would not change the medical care they receive.
The state says there is now widespread transmission of the virus in the community. Cases have been confirmed in 13 of Arizona's 15 counties, which are now subject to restrictions on business operations in an effort to control the spread of the disease.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.