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Mon, Sept. 27

Yavapai County to close its buildings to the public beginning Thursday
COVID numbers ‘continuing to build’

The county administration building in Prescott, and all other Yavapai County public buildings will be closing to the public as of Thursday, Aug. 5, due to rising COVID-19 cases. (Courier file photo.)

The county administration building in Prescott, and all other Yavapai County public buildings will be closing to the public as of Thursday, Aug. 5, due to rising COVID-19 cases. (Courier file photo.)

With 60% of eligible Yavapai County residents not yet fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and infections and hospitalizations rising, the county is opting to close down its public buildings again, starting on Thursday, Aug. 5.

This does not apply to the Yavapai County Superior or Justice courts.

That announcement came from Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Chairman Craig Brown during a Facebook Live town hall meeting Monday on the COVID-19 pandemic and the Delta variant.

Yavapai County Community Health Services Director Leslie Horton led off the town hall by giving an account of the current state of the pandemic, reporting that Yavapai County has been averaging about 53 new COVID cases a day over the past two weeks or so.

While the growth in cases has been slower than last summer’s outbreak, Horton noted that this year’s outbreak started a bit later than last year’s.

“Our outbreak this year started right around Fourth of July weekend, and it is continuing to build,” Horton said, adding, “However, it seems to have leveled off at least for the last couple weeks.”

Still, she said, “We are in substantially high transmission in Yavapai County, and so it’s important that we take this virus seriously, as we are also seeing a steep increase in hospitalizations, which is probably our biggest concern at this point.”

She reported that Yavapai Regional Medical Center currently has 38 hospitalizations, while Verde Valley Medical Center has three, and the Prescott VA has two.

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Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Chairman Craig Brown announces during a Facebook Live Town Hall meeting Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, that county buildings will be closed to the public as of Thursday, Aug. 5. (Facebook screenshot)

COUNTY CLOSURE

After Horton’s report on the current state of the pandemic, Brown announced that county officials “have been watching these numbers very closely to see what is going on within the community.”

He added that “the way the numbers are currently moving, we’ve had a number of discussions and meetings … and have decided as of this coming Thursday, Aug. 5, the county will go back into a situation where our buildings will be closed to the public.”

Similar to previous county closures for the pandemic, Brown said county offices and services will continue to operate, and members of the public can call ahead to make an appointment or go to the building entrances and call the numbers listed there, “and our employees will come out and meet with you and/or bring you into our facilities. But generally, they will be closed.”

All employees will be wearing masks when they are away from their work stations, and all county employees are being asked to get vaccinated (although not required).

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Yavapai County Community Health Services Director Leslie Horton speaks during a Facebook Live Town Hall meeting Monday, aug. 2, 2021. (Facebook screenshot)

VACCINATION RATES

On Monday, Aug. 2, Yavapai County Community Health Services Public Health Coordinator Terri Farneti reported that Yavapai County is currently 40% fully vaccinated for the population 12 and older (the eligible population). For the population over 18, the vaccination percentage is 41.9%, and for the population over 65, the vaccination rate is 59.3%.

All of the county officials who spoke at Monday’s town hall urged those who are still unvaccinated to get the vaccine.

“We’re hoping more people will get vaccinated, and then we don’t have to do this type of lockdown, if you will,” Brown said of the pending county building closure. “We want to make sure that our services are still available to the public, but we can’t take any more risks with the amount of employees that we see coming down with COVID-19, which has gone up dramatically over the past two weeks.”

In addition, Brown said, “We ask the people in the public ‘get vaccinated, there’s plenty of opportunity, it’s free, the government’s paying for it.’”

Brown stressed that getting the vaccine is “the best way to prevent getting very sick and possibly being hospitalized or even dying.” He added, “You have to remember the worst statistic we’ve had come out of this is those who were not vaccinated represent 99% of the deaths. So, please think about it.”

Horton and Yavapai County Community Health Services Epidemiologist Steven Everett reported that the vast majority of those hospitalized with COVID-19 have been unvaccinated.

Everett reported, “Our numbers are definitely going up.” The county’s rise from 19,000 cases to 20,000 cases took about two months, he said, while “In the past two weeks, we went from 20,000 to 21,000.”

With the current rise in the Delta variant, Everett said, “We are seeing more 40- to 60-year-olds getting sick versus the 60 and older people.”

CHANGING GUIDANCE

Horton acknowledged that “most people were excited when masking went away for a short while.” But following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), she said, “Right now, with the temperature of COVID, and as it’s spreading so rapidly, it is important that people consider masking in indoor spaces, whether they’re vaccinated or not.”

She added, “We do need to slow down the spread and do our best to keep this community healthy and resilient. COVID is not gone yet.”

For people who are not yet vaccinated, she recommended, “Please get vaccinated. There’s lots of opportunities around the community.”

CHILDHOOD VACCINATIONS

This week, parents everywhere are concerned about sending their children back to in-person school, Yavapai County Community Health Services officials stated.

“We have all been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Children’s lives have been affected in unimaginable ways, including their education, family life, social interactions, and most significantly, the continuity of their health care,” according to a news release. “Over the past year, many children fell behind on receiving routine childhood vaccinations and routine wellness exams. As children continue to return to the new ‘normal,’ routine childhood vaccinations are essential to keeping them and their communities protected and healthy.”

YCCHS is offering appointments for back-to-school vaccinations for the upcoming school year in all three locations – Prescott Valley on Fridays, Aug. 6, 13 and 20; Prescott on Tuesday, Aug. 10, and Thursdays, Aug. 19 and 26; and Cottonwood on Tuesdays, Aug. 17, 24 and 31.

Call 928-771-3122 to make an appointment.

To learn more about immunization requirements in Arizona, visit https://education.azgovernor.gov/edu/arizona-school-immunization-requirements.

DELTA

The Delta variant is the dominant strain of the COVID-19 virus in Arizona right now. If you are experiencing symptoms of a bad cold, please get tested for COVID-19.

Here is a list of testing sites: https://www.yavapai.us/Portals/39/COVID-19/TestingSitesinYavapaiCounty.pdf.

The best way to avoid getting infected is to get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe, effective and free. If you are looking to get vaccinated against COVID-19, check out:

• YRMC: https://www.yrmc.org/support-and-community/covid-19/covid-19-vaccinations

• Spectrum Healthcare: https://www.spectrumhealthcare-group.com/vaccine/ - 877-634-7333.

Their Anywhere Care team can go to anyone’s home and vaccinate them. You do not need to pre-register. Just call their dedicated line to schedule: 1-844-whereUr. (1-844-943-8273)

• Yavapai Community Health Services - 928-771-3122 for appointments, Phone Bank 928-442-5103

• Community Health Center of Yavapai - 928-583-1000

• www.vaccine.gov.

Information on vaccination locations, as well as guidance for schools is available on the Community Health Services website at https://yavapaiaz.gov/chs/.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2034, or cbarks@prescottaz.com.

Editor's Note - This article has been updated to include that the closure does not apply to superior or justice courts.

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