Chandler fire chief: Higher case count in 85224 ZIP code may be related to hospital, senior living facilities

Chandler Fire Department Chief Tom Dwiggins said the case count in Chandler's 85224 ZIP code may be related to the area's hospital and senior living facilities. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Chandler Fire Department Chief Tom Dwiggins said the case count in Chandler's 85224 ZIP code may be related to the area's hospital and senior living facilities. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Chandler Fire Department Chief Tom Dwiggins said the case count in Chandler's 85224 ZIP code may be related to the area's hospital and senior living facilities. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

With 168 COVID-19 cases reported as of May 8, Chandler's 85224 ZIP code has the highest total case count out of all six city ZIP codes, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Chandler Fire Department Chief Tom Dwiggins said the higher number may be related to the location of Chandler Regional Medical Center and the number of senior living facilities also in that ZIP code.

"One of the things we understand is that if patients [at the hospital] don't have an address or don't give an address, then they use the hospital address when the case is reported," Dwiggins said. "There are a few nursing homes straight in that area that really have had a significant amount of cases, that could be contributing to the amount of cases you're seeing when you compare the ZIP codes."

Dwiggins said emergency medical services have not been dispatched for possible COVID-19 calls at a higher rate to 85224 than the other city ZIP codes.

"A lot of the patients we treat, we treat them at home and don't transport them to the hospital," Dwiggins said. "They follow up with their primary care physician, and we never really know if they tested positive or not."


Dwiggins said the city and the fire department are well equipped to handle the pandemic.

"We have well-trained firefighters who are well equipped right now to handle all these calls, especially potential COVID-19 calls," Dwiggins said. "You name the disaster, our team has been training for it."

In terms of personal protective equipment, Dwiggins said the fire department is in a good position, and the department plans on continuing to order the protective equipment likely through the rest of the year.

"PPE is extremely important right now, we changed our response guidelines so our firefighters are protected and we are protecting residents," he said. "We don't want to go from incident to incident and spread the virus."

Dwiggins said additionally, the firefighters are taking their temperatures daily to ensure they are fit for duty and are constantly cleaning equipment.

"When we are responding on incidents now, we are really treating everybody like they could potentially have this virus just so we can keep everyone safe," he said.


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