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FLORENCE — Several Pinal County mayors and other officials are withdrawing their petition in Superior Court to require state and local health agencies to report the county’s COVID-19 cases by ZIP code.

“Since the filing of this motion, we feel the concerns voiced were heard, as well as taken under advisement,” Florence Mayor Tara Walter said in a statement submitted for “call to the public” at the Pinal County Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday.

“At this time, we believe the issues at hand are being taken seriously and are moving in a proactive direction. In an effort to move forward in good faith, we are placing trust in the higher agencies to act in the best interest for our first responders and inform our general public to the extent allowable.”

But Walter also continued to emphasize the importance of knowing where the infections are.

“The citizens of our county deserve to know what areas in our county are being impacted. The positive tests results are proof of where this virus is active. It will help in identifying pattern, and allow for enhanced communication and further aid in stopping the spread,” Walter said.

She continued, “More concerning is where are the tests?”

She said the public was previously assured more tests would be available. Without more testing, a COVID-19 death might be attributed to pneumonia, Walter said. “Simply put, we need better testing.”

Supervisor Pete Rios, D-Dudleyville, said he had heard the Arizona Department of Health Services would release more information and asked if county staff had further details.

County Manager Louis Andersen replied that the state is looking at providing more specifics, such as where equipment and resources have gone and where the infections are. The state agency is planning to present more information Sunday on its website, he said.

The board limited Wednesday’s audience in its hearing room in the interest of slowing the spread of COVID-19, and board Clerk Natasha Kennedy read Walter’s written statement.

David Coward of Gold Canyon also provided a written statement in which he asked the board for county-wide mail-in voting for the Nov. 3 election to help control the spread of infection.

He said covidactnow.org predicts between 1,000 and 5,000 deaths from COVID-19 in Pinal County, with available hospital beds filled from mid-April to early May. People are not wearing masks or practicing social distancing in grocery stores, “and most likely Pinal County will end up on the higher end of the curve,” Coward said.

Recovery will take time, and the virus could also make a comeback, Coward said, adding, a vaccine is still a year or more away. Not taking this potential risk off the table “only adds to the problems we will be facing ...,” Coward said. “Let’s get ahead of the curve for once, while we have the chance.”

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.

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