Understanding newly released COVID-19 case data for the NAU 86011 ZIP code

Recent data released by the Arizona Department of Health showed between 1-5 cases associated with the 86011 NAU ZIP code. NAU Campus Health Services and NAU leadership consulted with Coconino County Health and Human Services (CCHHS) to get clarification about this data. CCHHS shared that the ZIP code data is not perfect and that it could be the result of many possibilities, including:

  • A person who has not been on campus for some time, who may be living in another county or state, who used their NAU address as their permanent address when they tested.
  • A person who may have been off-campus when tested (on vacation, spring break home, etc.), but used their NAU address, would be included in the 86011 data. NAU may not have been notified of the test results and may not know about these cases, and the student may have never returned to campus.
  • A person who does not live or work on campus but was tested at NAU Campus Health and that ZIP code was used in the address.

These are just a few examples CCHHS shared that could explain cases identified in the NAU ZIP code. It is also important to share that State Health Director Dr. Cara Christ noted in a recent blog post that “…while ZIP code data is informative, it should not be used to determine whether or not residents of a particular ZIP code are or are not at risk of COVID-19.”

We want to assure our campus community that NAU continues to work closely with the Coconino County Department of Health and Human Services on the COVID-19. As we shared several week ago, CCHHS will direct the university if notification is needed, based upon their investigation of a confirmed case and the potential for exposure on campus. There have been no such notifications to date. In most situations where potential exposure may have occurred, CCHHS staff will reach out to potential contacts and inform them of the possible exposure and what they need to do. When there is no indication of exposure risk, there will be no contact by CCHHS and no notification will be sent.

We ask members of the NAU community to not share misinformation and to check the NAU coronavirus website for updates. One of the most important things you can continue to do is refer to NAU’s Coronavirus Information Q&A for what you can do to protect yourself and others.

This continues to be a rapidly evolving situation. The health of the Lumberjack community is our top priority, and we are committed to providing timely and factual information as it becomes available.

Go to the ADHS website for the ZIP code map and an explanation about the data and learn more in an interview with ADHS assistant director Jessica Rigler did with KTAR.