Mohave County Supervisors vote to return senior centers to operation by May 7
KINGMAN – The Mohave County Board of Supervisors voted on Monday, April 19 to return area senior centers to full operation by May 7 after receiving a positive COVID-19 update from Public Health Director Denise Burley.
Burley told supervisors the county is seeing a decline in not only COVID-19 cases, but related deaths as well, with 98 cases last week and deaths down to zero to two a week.
Burley called it a “drastic improvement over the last month, for sure.” She also said cases among children have been declining in Mohave County since peaking around the beginning of the year.
Burley reported that “we’ve seen improvements across the board in nearly all hospital metrics as of last week.” She said that as of April 18, the county’s ICU occupancy was at 66%, with 34% COVID-19-positive. Statewide, Arizona had an 84% ICU occupancy with 9% COVID-19-positive.
As of Sunday night, 92,798 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in Mohave County, with approximately 90% of the county’s vaccine allocation utilized. Another allocation was set for Tuesday and Wednesday, April 20-21, Burley said. So far, 35,169 people have been fully vaccinated in Mohave County.
Burley also updated supervisors on the pause on the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. She called the pause a “positive step,” and evidence that vaccine safety is of the utmost importance.
“Because of the type of blood clot this vaccine may cause, and the treatment difference there, they wanted to make sure they paused to give information to physicians on how to treat that,” she said. “So delaying the administration of the vaccine does allow for that to occur and for physicians to be educated, and also for the potential that other cases may come forward as a result of now knowing, and having it visually out there, there may be other cases out there that hadn’t been reported as of then.”
Supervisor Ron Gould of District 5 said the pause seems like an “overreaction, unless they have something else going on they’re not really talking about,” as only six individuals have experienced issues with the vaccine out of the 6.8 million who have received it.
“If they are seeing cases of this nature it behooves them to step back if it’s something they haven’t identified as an issue in the past, to step back and evaluate the circumstances and conditions to see if that’s worthwhile,” Burley responded.
Supervisor Travis Lingenfelter of District 1 inquired as to current direction regarding kids wearing masks while at school. He said a lot of Mohave County parents are frustrated that their kids are masked up all day long, even during physical education classes.
“Are we just trying to appease the school teachers’ associations or are we actually going to be paying attention to what’s in the best interest of our children,” he asked.
Burley explained that masks in schools come due to an emergency measure from the Arizona Department of Health Services, which directed schools to make sure masks are worn in school settings. Burley told the supervisor that she would look into the matter and return with more information in regards to the data being used to make decisions on masks in schools, and direction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Late Monday afternoon, In alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services rescinded orders directing K-12 schools to require masks, leaving it up to individual school districts.
The public health director, after being prompted by Gould, said a plan is in place to reopen the county’s senior centers.
“I think in seeing case numbers go down we’ll modify our recommendation moving forward,” she said. “For the time being, we’re continuing to operate in the lowest-risk mode to prevent any kind of illness in this particular age group simply because they’re at the greatest risk.”
Another hurdle is volunteers, many of whom are also in the age category with a greater risk and choosing not to participate in community events at this time due to the virus.
Gould, who opined that “They’re adults; they can make their own decision on whether they want to go to the senior center, many of them have been vaccinated,” motioned to return senior center operations by May 7. That motion was unanimously approved by the rest of the board.
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