Almost for the first time since the crisis began, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors discussed the possibility of ending its ongoing state of emergency.
Jean Bishop, who serves as the board’s chairman, declared a state of emergency in reference to the coronavirus epidemic earlier this year, following a similar declaration made by the Arizona Governor’s Office. But with the number of coronavirus cases continuing to decline in Mohave County, and continuing complaints from county residents, supervisors addressed possible avenues toward ending the county’s state of emergency.
“The board could remove the state of emergency by a majority vote,” said Deputy Mohave County Attorney Ryan Esplin at Monday’s meeting. “They would have to put it on a future meeting agenda to possibly pass a vote.”
Esplin said he could only speak to the legality of ending the county’s state of emergency. But as to whether the county should do so, Esplin deferred to the expertise of Mohave County Health Director Denise Burley.
Burley has reported more than 3,700 confirmed coronavirus cases since March, with new cases peaking in June. The number of positive cases saw a steady decline from July through August, according to state records, appearing to coincide with masking orders by local governments and business closures ordered by Gov. Ducey. Last week, Burley reported that there were 40 confirmed new coronavirus cases in Mohave County – compared to 122 reported cases one week prior.
According to Burley, the county’s state of emergency is spurring mitigation efforts by residents – and in this case, the cure is far preferable to the disease.
“Mitigation efforts are reducing our case counts,” Burley said. “They’re not popular, but there’s correlation between the timing of implementing those efforts and the results we’ve been seeing.”
According to Burley, the coronavirus may not be the only threat that could be avoided through masking and social distancing, however. With the approaching flu season, Burley says coronavirus patients could face a much more difficult recovery if their immune systems were already weakened by exposure to influenza.
Ultimately, Burley said continued mitigation strategies may be Mohave County’s only defense against a resurgence of the coronavirus in the near future.
“As we continue to see our cases decrease, and see our percentage of positive cases decrease, it’s a reason for people to continue taking the efforts they’re taking,” Burley said. “Without a vaccine or other form of treatment, the virus will remain out there. And without these strategies, we’re just setting ourselves up to go back (to higher reported cases).”
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors took no action in its discussion on Monday.