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Fort Mohave, Bullhead City health facilities low on ICU beds

Supervisor Buster Johnson of District 3 is calling for releasing more info on local cases. (Miner file photo)

Supervisor Buster Johnson of District 3 is calling for releasing more info on local cases. (Miner file photo)

KINGMAN – Two local hospitals are close to capacity in terms of ICU beds, Mohave County Public Health Director Denise Burley said in her biweekly report to the Mohave County Board of Supervisors on Monday, April 27.

Valley View Medical Center in Fort Mohave has one bed left, and Western Arizona Regional Medical Center in Bullhead City has four beds left. Otherwise, the county is not experiencing any other immediate COVID-19-related issues, Burley said

District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson asked when the county will start releasing more information on cases in particular zip codes. He mentioned 86404, 86401 and 86409 as having multiple cases and said he would like to see more information on the cases and if they are, for example, related to a long-term health-care facility.

He was supported in this request by District 2 Supervisor Hildy Angius, who said the age of dead patients is the most important information people look for.

“Why can’t we talk about the exact age of a person who has died,” she asked.

Burley said she will follow up on the possibility of releasing this information.

District 1 Supervisor Gary Watson returned again to the difference in the high number of positive cases in Kingman compared to other locations.

“I was reflecting back on the average age,” he said. In Kingman, affected patients seem to be much older than those in Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City. Is it because Kingman has an older population with more underlying conditions, he asked.

Burley agreed that might be a contributing factor, but said she wouldn’t consider it the only possible explanation.

Johnson inquired if Public Health needs more manpower, mainly because he would like to see the board and the public being informed on new positive cases in a more timely manner so that people take the disease more seriously.

“Potentially,” Burley said, but pushed back against issuing more press releases. She said her staff is working all day long to go through all the necessary steps in the process of notification. She reminded the board the department is often dealing with several cases at the same time.

The county typically issues a single press release regarding that day’s cases late in the day.

At the same time, Burley said the department might need more manpower to handle contact tracing, which involves tracking down and notifying people that they came in contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus. An extensive contact investigation program is being developed by the state, Burley said.

People want to know that the county is doing something, Johnson said. “They get paranoid when we don’t go with a press release in 24 hours,” he added.

However, Angius disagreed with Johnson on issuing more press releases. “If we want people to take it more seriously, in my opinion, a headline with nine people is more jarring than one case,” she said.

(This story was changed to reflect that one of the two hospital facing ICU bed shortage is Valley View Medical Center, not Valle Vista Medical Center.)

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