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Mohave County Supervisors entertain ending COVID-19 emergency declaration

Mohave County Supervisor Gary Watson of District 1 participates in a recent board meeting. (Photo by Agata Popeda/Kingman Miner)

Mohave County Supervisor Gary Watson of District 1 participates in a recent board meeting. (Photo by Agata Popeda/Kingman Miner)

KINGMAN – A local resident sparked a discussion at the Monday, Sept. 14 Mohave County Board of Supervisors meeting about the possibility of voting to end the COVID-19 health emergency declaration in Mohave County.

Amanda Kaufman of Kingman attended and asked to speak on the matter. Upon consulting Deputy County Attorney Ryan Esplin, Chairwoman Jean Bishop declined to let her speak, explaining it was a special meeting with limited participation. Bishop asked Kaufman to send her comments to the clerk of the board, as others do.

Supervisor Gary Watson of District 1 asked the resident to stay and promised to meet her right after the meeting. That turned out to be unnecessary, however, after Supervisor Hildy Angius of District 2 used her own time to read Kaufman’s letter.

“I’m giving you my authority to do that,” Bishop said.

“I don’t think I need that,” Angius observed.

“I’m giving it to you anyway because I’m a nice person,” Bishop offered.

The letter stated there was “never an emergency” and that the county received more than $9 million in federal aid to fight COVID-19, none of which was shared with the community. Kaufman said that instead, the county is “harassing businesses” by keeping the emergency artificially alive.

Bishop asked Esplin for a response and Esplin said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and U.S. President Donald Trump are the ones keeping the emergency status in place.

“Would a vote of the board remove the emergency from Mohave County,” asked Supervisor Ron Gould of District 5.

Esplin confirmed that it would, adding that he was giving legal advice, and not commenting about the state of the pandemic.

Watson asked Mohave County Public Health Director Denise Burley her opinion on when it would be “prudent” to lift the current measures. “At some point in time, we need to take a look at it,” he said.

Burley reminded the board that the end of emergency has to come from a vaccine or from some form of established treatment. She also mentioned the potential danger of the coronavirus overlapping with flu season, and noted that the safety measures in place have helped curb the spread of the virus.

Supervisor Buster Johnson of District 3 stated the local emergency is probably necessary to receive federal funding for the COVID-19 response. Esplin said that may be the case, and said he would check.

Burley provided some information about the attendance at testing events by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Less than 100 people were tested at the free events in Kingman on Sept. 11-12, despite the fact that it was a very fast process – a one-minute wait and three minutes to get tested. Only a fraction of the 1,000 available tests were utilized.

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