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Health officials in Arizona say they are recommending that residents keep their personal phone numbers for health care workers as they try to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Health officials in the state said Wednesday that people should also keep their doctor’s phone numbers, and for their family doctors.
“It is the policy of the Arizona Department of Public Health to make sure that all of our patients are getting the right medical care,” Dr. Thomas Schaffner, an assistant director of the state’s Department of Health Services, said in a statement.
“This includes the health care provider and their personal phones as well.”
Schaffner said the department had previously recommended that people keep their health care providers’ phones on a separate network and to check their email on their own devices.
“This is important because people have been asking for this information for some time, and it is essential that we do everything we can to get this information out,” he said.
Health care workers have been using mobile phones to keep up with their patients, and they are using them to keep track of cases of the virus, which is spreading rapidly.
The Associated Press has not found a specific policy for phone numbers.
Schaffners office has not yet determined if phone numbers are required by law.
But the department said that the use of phones is not limited to health care professionals.
“The use of mobile phones is widespread and pervasive, and health care facilities and other entities may utilize the devices to communicate with patients and to conduct their business,” Schaffners statement said.
The state Department of Human Services, which regulates health care services, said it had not seen a specific guidance from the department on keeping phones and other personal health information separate.
But a spokeswoman for the state Department, which oversees state health agencies, said they have asked for guidance from their lawyers to see if that would be possible.
“We would encourage them to have a look and see if this is a good idea for the agency to do,” said Laura Siegel.
She said the office has asked for a review of its guidelines, and that if a policy is deemed necessary to prevent the spread, it could come later this year.
“If the health department needs a specific information like phone numbers or other personal information, they are going to ask the attorney general for guidance,” Siegel said.
Siegel added that the department is in discussions with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.