KINGMAN (AP) — Mohave County remains in a state of emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic after a motion to rescind the declaration failed, according to county officials.
Supervisor Hildy Angius’ motion to end the public health emergency declaration, which has been in place since March, was defeated in a 3-2 vote Thursday by the county board of supervisors.
The board asked county officials earlier this week to investigate the repercussions of rescinding the declaration, since the county in northwest Arizona has received more than $9 million in federal coronavirus relief funding.
All but $1.5 million has been spent or allocated into the county’s contingency fund for future use. The concern was that they would have to return the aid to the government if the declaration was rescinded.
“Holding onto the emergency declaration in the hope for a few thousand dollars in the future is a bad way for the government to act, and it’s bad for the public,” Angius said.
Deputy Mohave County Attorney Ryan Esplin said it did not appear that an emergency declaration was necessary to retain the funding, but also argued that not declaring a state of emergency could potentially risk future grant funding and undermine efforts to mitigate the virus by local health officials.
Esplin also argued that not declaring a public health emergency would encourage residents to believe there are no threats to their health, making it harder to implement safety guidelines, and leave the county open to lawsuits from those affected by COVID-19.
“The state of emergency is not about masks,” said Supervisor Ron Gould, who supported Angius. “It’s about the fact the county is acting under a state of emergency which empowers the board chairman to make executive decisions on her own without board input. This emergency hasn’t required any ‘snap-cation.’ There isn’t anything we can do regarding the coronavirus emergency that can’t be discussed at one of our two weekly meetings.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
The Arizona Department of Health Services on Friday reported 683 additional known COVID-19 cases and three more deaths, increasing the state’s totals to 224,084 cases and 5,746 deaths.
Pinal County reported 54 new cases, bringing the total to 10,973. The county also reported a reduction in deaths by two to 212 total. Health officials initially assign deaths to the county where the hospital is located when a patient dies. Sometimes the numbers are updated if they find the place of residence of the deceased is outside the county where the hospital is located.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.