Mohave County Supervisors rescind public health emergency
KINGMAN – Mohave County made history on Monday, Nov. 2, as Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Jean Bishop observed after making a motion to call off the COVID-19 emergency declaration. The motion passed 5-0 making Mohave County the first county in Arizona to do so.
“What does that mean to Mohave County,” Bishop asked Deputy County Attorney Ryan Esplin in the context of Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order still being in place, but also regarding the future of $9.1 million in federal funds the county received to deal with the emergency. The concern is if the emergency declaration is called off, the county would have to return the emergency funding.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Esplin answered and added that he disagrees with the motion.
“I disagree with my motion, too,” said Bishop, “but I made it.”
“We should be extremely clear,” added Supervisor Gary Watson of District 1. “That doesn’t change any enforcement.”
He meant the enforcement of COVID-19 safety measures required at local businesses, such as restaurants, and monitored by the Mohave County Department of Public Health. Those are coming from the governor’s executive order, as Bishop frequently stated.
“Chairwoman has no special powers,” she said, referring to what Esplin called the court of public opinion on social media that blames her for enforcing various COVID-19 safety measures.
Watson and Supervisor Buster Johnson of District 3 also abandoned their previous positions against rescinding the emergency, and the board approved the motion unanimously.
“We are making history in the state of Arizona,” observed Bishop.
That prompted another vote – to cease biweekly COVID-19 meetings and go to a regular calendar of bimonthly meetings. The motion was approved 4-1, with Watson voting against it.
MCDPH reported at the same meeting a 70% increase in the county’s COVID-19 cases since September.
The department is also looking to restore a full team of COVID-19 case investigators after some positions became vacant and the number of new cases slowed.