BISBEE — Positive cases of COVID-19 are continuing to decline and vaccinations are continuing to increase in Cochise County.
Craig Janiszewski, county public health emergency preparedness coordinator, provided Board of Supervisors members Ann English, Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby with the good news Friday in a work session.
Over the past year, there have been 11,963 positive cases in the county with 284 deaths and 702 hospitalizations. The county had just 53 new positive cases last week.
The county and its partners have dispensed 90,499 doses of the vaccine, some of which went to people getting their second vaccination of the Moderna vaccine.
According to the county’s COVID-19 website, the 20- to 40-year-olds are now the group with the most cases at 41 percent followed by the 65 and older group at 17 percent and 19 and younger group at 16 percent.
The 20 to 44 group is also the most tested with 20,404 people, followed by those 65 and older at 13,875.
The number of people in the county who are fully vaccinated is now 41,547, or 40 percent of the population which, below herd immunity status of 70 to 80 percent as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Janiszewski told the supervisors the Pfizer vaccine, also requiring two shots, is expected to be approved for children 12 and older next week. The Pfizer vaccine is being dispensed to other age groups by Chiricahua Community Health Clinics Inc., which gets the doses directly from the federal government.
The county health team is working with school districts to provide vaccination services. The only problem with getting students the vaccine is that the school year is nearly over and the vaccines require two doses, with the second one being administered 28 days after the first
“We’ll be utilizing the same strategy we have been using,” Janiszewski said. “We’ll engage the school district superintendents to get messaging out to the parents so they understand their options and opportunities for appointments. The barriers we’ve seen in the past with parents getting vaccinated are not such a barrier nowadays.”
The number of people who want the vaccine is declining as some are hesitant to get the shot.
English stated, “Some people trust their doctors and want him or her to give them the vaccine. That will open a lot more doors for a lot more people who regularly visit their doctors.”
Tammy Jo Wilkins, county emergency preparedness specialist, said the county has an official medical reserve corps composed of volunteer health providers.
“We never had that capability in the country before,” she said. “We had to relay on Tucson’s southwestern unit. Having our own group allows us to mold it to fit all of our needs, not just medical needs. I’m pretty excited about this opportunity.”
A group of 40 volunteers has helped with dispensing the vaccine at the inoculation sites around the county, she added.
English said, “Volunteers are so important in all our endeavors. You can’t hire enough people at any given point in time to do whatever the job is.”
Judd remarked, “I don’t know what we’d do without the volunteers.”
English summarized, “Sounds like good news to me. The number of people being tested is going up and the number of positive cases is going down. Vaccinations continue at a steady pace. We’re doing our job.”
The CDC recommends people and children continue to wear masks and social distance indoors, as well as wash hands frequently.
For information relating to the virus and vaccination availability, visit the website: https://covid-cochisehealth.hub.arcgis.com/.