Mohave County has since September experienced a surge in new coronavirus cases, and Lake Havasu City officials are asking for renewed vigilance in preventing the spread.
During the last week of October, Arizona Health officials reported 99 confirmed coronavirus cases per 100,000 Mohave County residents. A single additional case would place Mohave County in the “substantial” category for potential coronavirus exposure. Mohave County experienced such a designation earlier this year, which prompted closures for area gyms, bars and movie theaters until cases fell below the state’s “moderate” threshold.
Lake Havasu City Mayor Cal Sheehy was alarmed by the rising number of cases on Wednesday.
“We’re anticipating our numbers to increase based on reports from the rest of the county,” Sheehy said. “We’re encouraging businesses and citizens to follow the guidelines — Wear face coverings, wash your hands regularly, maintain social distancing and stay at home if you’re feeling sick.”
According to county health department records, more than 200 new coronavirus cases were reported during the first week of November, and more than 240 more new cases were reported last week.
The Arizona Department of Health Service is scheduled to release an assessment of Mohave County’s coronavirus case numbers today, with possible new restrictions for local businesses. A report from state health officials, to be released this morning, could prove that Mohave County has indeed surpassed the state health department’s “substantial” threshold.
Although the designation once required bars, gyms and movie theaters to remain closed to customers early in the crisis, Sheehy says no such requirement will be brought against such businesses this month. Sheehy said that if the county has previously met the Arizona Department of Health Services’ lower benchmarks, and earned some business owners’ right to do business, that right will unlikely be taken away.
“The governor gave no indication of future business closures,” Sheehy said. “Things change from day to day. We don’t know what the future may bring in the pandemic, but we know that we can slow or mitigate the spread by following the health department’s precautions.”
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, the percentage of positive coronavirus tests is also on the rise, with 6.8% of all tests returning positive results in Mohave County as of late October. Those most recent numbers reflect the highest percentage of positive tests since late August, when 8.1% of all tests showed positive results.
In Lake Havasu City, hospital staff have prepared themselves to handle a growing influx of new coronavirus patients. According to Havasu Regional Medical Center Public Relations Specialist Santoriello Corey, doctors and nursing staff have found themselves challenged by the upward trend of coronavirus cases throughout Mohave County and the rest of the country.
“We continue to closely monitor the prevalence of the virus in our community and build upon our hospital’s emergency operations plan,” Corey said. “We cannot speculate on what could happen over the coming weeks and months, but we can assure everyone that we are working hard to plan for all these scenarios and adapt our hospital operations during the evolving pandemic.”
According to Corey, as many as 40% of coronavirus patients show few or no symptoms. With cooler temperatures and the region’s annual flu season, Corey says the hospital is preparing itself for a challenging winter, and as of this week has treated as many as 20 coronavirus patients per day.
“We strongly urge our community members to be even more diligent in their efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the months ahead,” Corey said. “We call upon every community member to lead by example: Wear a mask over your nose and mouth, wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing and avoid group gatherings.”