COVID-19 is a public health concern for all of us and has impacted us in different ways. Coconino County is the state-mandated public health agency throughout the County. It is the County’s role to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic for every resident in our county, within cities and towns and in the unincorporated areas. As Coconino County leads on that response, I wanted to recap some of the large public health functions we have engaged in and the work that is ahead of us.
In January, Coconino County took an early action and launched an Incident Command team to prepare the critical infrastructure needed to respond to COVID-19. Coconino County opened the first drive-up testing site in the state at Fort Tuthill and we activated a call center in an effort to provide timely and accurate COVID-19 information to our residents. We are one of the few county health agencies participating in the Arizona Testing Blitz to offer testing, with 1,098 persons receiving testing during the Blitz. The Testing Blitz will continue after the Memorial Day weekend and is free of charge and open to all persons.
Our planning and preparation also helped us lead the state in opening the first non-congregate hotel shelter for persons experiencing homelessness. Opening an isolation and quarantine hotel for persons experiencing homelessness allows us to partner with local shelters and medical facilities to slow the spread of COVID-19 within congregate settings by separating those who are positive or pending test results.
COVID-19’s impact affects more than just our personal physical health; it has reshaped our economic lives. Coconino County has partnered with United Way and many other nonprofit organizations to create the Social Safety-Net Services Coalition to gather resources to aid residents with housing, food and other basic needs. Along with our partners in the Social Safety-Net Services Coalition, our Health and Human Services team is working hard to provide support for those who need assistance every day. This includes our workforce team that provides help to retrain workers and prepare them for the job market.
Much of the economy and business functions that were closed are starting to reopen. As part of our public health duties, Coconino County is working with local businesses to review and offer advice on re-opening plans. Reopening does not change our need to be diligent in our prevention methods. We urge everyone to continue to practice sound judgement and follow guidance to wear masks, wash your hands, sanitize spaces and practice physical distancing. You can find all the most recent guidance and resources on the COVID-19 website at www.coconino.az.gov/covid19.
These are all important roles for which the County provides leadership and resources; but we cannot do it alone. Many of our community partners have brought resources and help to our response. From local partners at T-Gen, Northern Arizona University, Northern Arizona Healthcare and North Country Health Care to the Arizona Department of Emergency Management & Military Affairs and Arizona Department of Health Services, the robust response to COVID-19 in Coconino County is an example of a commitment to partnership and diligent public service by our team.
Our county’s residents, cities and towns, institutions and businesses can count on Coconino County to continue to be a leader in the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The County is committed to leading in this space, informed by science and public health standards to slow the spread of COVID-19 and provide excellent service to our residents.
Liz Archuleta is the chair of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors.
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