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Sat, July 11

Mohave County Supervisors question county health director about COVID-19 procedures

Mohave County Public Health Director Denise Burley updates the county board of supervisors about the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Agata Popeda/Kingman Miner)

Mohave County Public Health Director Denise Burley updates the county board of supervisors about the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Agata Popeda/Kingman Miner)

KINGMAN – Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson of District 3 requested more information on the coronavirus cases currently labeled “under investigation” in daily reports the Mohave County Department of Public Health submits to all five supervisors.

The matter was discussed at length at the special COVID-19 meeting between the board and MCDPH on Thursday, June 4.

“When you see ‘under investigation,’ what it really means is that we haven’t [yet] had the opportunity often times to reach out to that particular case and get more information,” said Denise Burley, the county’s Public Health director.

Burley said she hopes to catch up with the investigations when the department is able to hire a new data entry person. She explained the MEDSIS [Medical Electronic Disease Surveillance Intelligence System] does not always paint a complete picture for the county’s nurses, because it’s not only they who do data entry on county cases.

“How many cases under investigation do we have,” Johnson asked.

“We are working on these investigations every day,” Burley replied. ‘What was reported as ‘under investigation’ a few days ago was probably addressed by one of the nurses and the investigation has started.”

But Johnson said reporting new cases without having complete information and answers is not OK.

“If we have a bunch that are under investigation and we are not counting those, we wouldn’t be reporting them,” he said.

Burley said that’s the why the process is structured right now.

“Do you want us to wait to report the case until we have more complete information,” she asked, adding that would delay the reporting process for a day or two. At the same time, she warned that the change would put the county out of sync with the Arizona Department of Health Services website.

“We cannot always get to every case every day,” Burley said. That doesn’t mean the nurses are not doing investigations in a timely manner, she added. “Especially if we get 10 cases or more per day, sometimes late in the afternoon, there’s little chance to reach this particular person.”

Johnson said he understands but it is the supervisors who are getting questions for which they don’t have answers. He is only looking for way to be more clear with the public, he said.

“Could you have another reporting category: ‘cases under investigation,’” asked County Manager Mike Hendrix, but Johnson wasn’t impressed with the solution.

Burley said she has to talk to her team and discuss the matter. “Let me see what I can do on my end,” she said.

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