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Tue, May 26

Virus testing initiative begins in long-term care facilities

Desert Highlands Care Center in Kingman is one of the long-term care facilities in Mohave County that has experienced COVID-19 cases. The county announced Monday that residents and staff of long-term care facilities are being tested for the virus under a new state initiative. (Photo by Agata Popeda/Kingman Miner)

Desert Highlands Care Center in Kingman is one of the long-term care facilities in Mohave County that has experienced COVID-19 cases. The county announced Monday that residents and staff of long-term care facilities are being tested for the virus under a new state initiative. (Photo by Agata Popeda/Kingman Miner)

KINGMAN – A testing program for residents and workers at long-term care facilities has come to Mohave County, part of a statewide effort to cut down on COVID-19 cases in nursing homes.

The Arizona Department of Health Services contracted with a company to conduct the testing, Mohave County Public Health Director Denise Burley told the county board of supervisors Monday, May 18.

The initiative will help identify staff members as well as residents who may have contracted the virus, which has killed 27 Mohave County residents, most of them age 65 or older.

Burley said she believes the testing started on Friday, May 15. She said seven local facilities will be tested, but she didn’t have names of the facilities. County health officials won’t be informed of the results.

The health director also gave the supervisors information on the number of residents who’ve recovered from the virus.

“We do have a number of recovered cases,” Burley said. “I know the public is very interested in that. The number is 73 cases that recovered with a completed investigation ...”

This information will be available on the county’s website and updated each Monday, she explained.

In other health-related matters, Burley said she checked with county Public Works Director Steven Latoski about the opening county-owned community parks. She reported all city parks opened for full use in Kingman, Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City, so the county officials opted to open theirs for full use, too.

As of Monday, the county health department’s Division of Environmental Health is again issuing food permits for special events, food trucks and other uses.

“Do you have any major concerns issuing those permits,” asked District 1 Supervisor Gary Watson. “Are you asking for any protocol for handling food?

“I don’t think so,” Burley replied. “There are already things going on in the community. We want to play our role in the food part, to make sure we are doing are due diligence and that people feel comfortable coming to us.”

Burley said restaurants received safety guidelines from The National Restaurant Association. “They certainly understand what steps are required from them,” she said.

Watson again asked Burley why Kingman is being hit harder by COVID-19 than other parts of the county, speculating that the large number of retirees, the major highways, and restaurants frequented by tourists might be reasons.

Burley agreed and added that more testing has been done in Kingman due to an outbreak at a long-term care facility, and noted that the Kingman service area covers about 60% of the county.

Finally, the supervisors voted to change the age groups currently used by the county to identify COVID-19 cases. The new groups will be 0-18, 18-30, 30-40, 40-50, 50-65, 65-75, 75-85, 85-95 and 95-105.

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