Rep. Debbie Lesko

After testing negative for COVID-19 in Peoria, Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-District 8) returned to Congress to vote for assistance for small businesses and weigh in on the creation of a coronavirus subcommittee.

Rep. Debbie Lesko lives in the Peoria part of the 85381 ZIP code, which also includes Glendale.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, there are less than 10 COVID-19 positive tests in 85381.

When Lesko went to get tested at a drive-thru Banner Health facility, she drove through the 85382 ZIP code—which has 114 positive cases as of April 28. The 85382 was one of only three ZIP codes in the state with more than 100 cases.

“I can’t account for it,” Lesko said of the extraordinarily high numbers. Indeed, the 85381 is nearly twice as high as Glendale 85301, the next-highest in the West Valley, with 66 positive tests.

“My guess it’s maybe the testing site.”

Lesko said she was tested at a temporary facility in the parking lot of Christ’s Church of the Valley. While the church has an 85383 ZIP code, there is a Banner Health Clinic on West Deer Valley Road in 85382, a half-mile from Banner Urgent Care.

According to the AZDHS map, “Over 90% of cases were mapped to the address of the patient’s residence.  If the patient’s address was unknown the case was mapped to the address of the provider followed by the address of the reporting facility.”

Glendale 85303 had 28 positive cases. Glendale 85302 had 23 positive cases.

The 85345 ZIP code, which includes part of Glendale, Peoria and Sun City, had 57 positive COVID-19 tests.

Peoria 85383, just north of 85382, had 34 positive tests.

While the number of positive tests remains puzzling in some ZIP codes, Lesko said businesses in all areas are “hurting.”

Since Gov. Doug Ducey’s March 30 executive order forced many businesses to close, Lesko said her 8th Congressional District office, which extends from Avondale/Litchfield Park to Anthem/New River, and includes portions of Glendale and most of Peoria, has been “getting hundreds of calls from all kinds of businesses.”

“Restaurants and hotels—businesses that cater to tourists—are the ones being hit the hardest,” Lesko said April 23 from her Washington, D.C., office.

After talking to the West Valley View, Lesko returned to the House of Representatives floor and voted for a $484 billion coronavirus relief package that targets small businesses and hospitals. The bill, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump the next day, restarts a small-business loan program that was swamped by demand and allocates more money for health care providers and virus testing.

Lesko tested negative for COVID-19.

Last month, when Congress passed the $2.4 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Lesko sat out the vote, staying at her home in Peoria.

“I wasn’t feeling well, and two doctors told me I shouldn’t travel,” Lesko said.

After being advised to get tested for the coronavirus, she called the Banner Health COVID-19 test number (1-844-549-1851). “I did not identify myself as a member of Congress. They asked my symptoms, I said I had a fever—within an hour I got a text to go get the test,” she said.

Lesko said she went to a drive-thru test location in Peoria. “No one was in line, which leads me to believe there is not a shortage of tests,” Lesko said.

The next day, a Banner representative called her to say she tested negative.

According to a blog post by Arizona Health Director Dr. Cara Christ last week, “anyone who thinks they have been exposed to and could be infected with COVID-19” can now be tested. Previous guidelines made testing only available to those who had symptoms (including fever, cough and difficulty breathing).

With a negative test and no more symptoms, Lesko was able to travel last week and do business in Congress, including her vote for business assistance.

“I’m supportive of small business funding—the whole goal is to be able to pay workers so they don’t become unemployed,” she said.

“Everybody is hurting.”

The Glendale Star asked Lesko her opinion on when Gov. Doug Ducey should lift restrictions and allow nonessential businesses to reopen.

“I think that’s a $1 million question,” Lesko said. “I think Gov. Ducey has more insight than I do. Obviously, he made an executive order to reopen elective surgeries, I think that’s a good first step. I’ve been on conference calls with rural and major hospitals in our district. They’ve been getting calls from people upset that they can’t get elective surgeries done—and these are not cosmetic, they’re health-related surgeries.

“Hospitals have been complaining they’re not making any money and emergency rooms are not at full capacity; they’re just hemorrhaging money.”

Ducey announced April 22 that he was lifting part of his March 21 order and that hospitals and surgery centers can resume elective surgeries May 1.

Demonstrators last week demanded Ducey lift all social-distancing restrictions.

“I think everybody has the right to demonstrate,” Lesko said. “People are frustrated. I do wish people practice social distancing and wear face masks ... Some of the protesters I saw didn’t seem to be 6 feet apart.

“But people have a right to do what they want.”