COVID Update: State reports 3,546 new cases; county sees 82
School board in Bullhead City imposes gag rule
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) reported 3,546 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and four more deaths Thursday, Aug. 19, bringing the state’s total to 976,471 cases and 18,508 deaths since the pandemic began.
More than half of Arizona’s population has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Hospitalizations because of the virus continue to climb, and were at 1,837 as of Wednesday. That’s the highest number since mid-February.
The state added 82 new cases and zero deaths to Yavapai County’s pandemic tally Thursday. Yavapai County has recorded 22,463 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 560 deaths since the pandemic began, ADHS reported.
While the Humboldt Unified School District board in Prescott Valley and Dewey required its superintendent, John Pothast, to determine which, if any, schools should follow a mask mandate (see related story), employees in the Colorado River Union High School District in Bullhead City cannot even discuss vaccination status or mask-wearing with students.
Under a motion approved unanimously Tuesday by the Colorado River school board, there will be no repercussions for administrators, staff and teachers who violate the edict. That would be up to Superintendent Monte Silk, who supported the motion.
The debate over masks and vaccines in Arizona schools has been heated. At least 26 school districts in Arizona have enacted their own mask mandates, even as Gov. Doug Ducey has tried to prevent them and threatened schools with a loss of funding.
Those school districts account for nearly 300,000 students and 450 schools, mostly around Phoenix and Tucson.
Colorado River Union’s gag rule, however, is rare. Board Member Ashley Gerich, who calls herself a “non-vaxxer” requested the item be put on the board’s agenda this week. She said a couple of students, including her daughter, told her conversations about the vaccine made them feel uncomfortable, the Mohave Daily News reported. “Regardless of your own personal views and beliefs, you shouldn’t be forcing them on impressionable children or teenagers, adolescents,” she said Tuesday. “I think that’s their parents’ job and right to be able to say whether they want their child to be vaccinated or not.”
A fellow board member, Carey Fearing, said neither vaccines nor masks should be discussed during school hours and suggested teachers talk with students about things that pertain only to classroom learning. The board oversees schools in Bullhead City and Mohave Valley. Its president is a local surgeon.
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or what seems to be a bad cold, please get tested for COVID-19, the Yavapai County Community Health Services urges.
For testing sites, visit yavapaiaz.gov/Portals/39/COVID-19/TestingSitesinYavapaiCounty.pdf.
The best way to avoid getting infected is to get vaccinated, YCCHS reported. The vaccines are safe, effective and free. For contact info to make an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccines, visit yavapaiaz.gov/chs/Home/COVID-19/COVID-19-Vaccine-Appointments.
For more information, call 928-771-3122 or 928-442-5103, or visit www.vaccine.gov.
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