Highlights of $900 billion COVID-19 relief, wrapup bills

Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are moved to a loading dock for shipping on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020.

With the FDA approval and emergency use authorization issued late last week, Cochise Health and Social Services (CHSS) anticipates receiving a shipment of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine this week.

According to Alicia Thompson, Director of CHSS, “We will be following recommendations from the Arizona Vaccine and Antiviral Prioritization Advisory Committee (VAPAC) to determine who will receive the first doses. The first members of our community to receive the vaccine will be healthcare workers who are working directly with patients who have, or may have, COVID-19.”

Phase 1 of inoculations begins when vaccines arrive and lasts until Spring 2021. Frontline healthcare workers, emergency medical services workers and longterm care facility staff and residents are in phase 1A, the first wave of shots.

Phase 1B includes protective service workers such as law enforcement and fire fighters, high risk adults in congregate settings, teachers and childcare workers, critical industry workers — such as utility employees and food and agriculture workers — and healthcare workers not included in phase 1A.

Phase 1C include all adults 65 or older and any adult considered high risk due to preexisting health conditions.

Phase 2, which runs from spring to summer 2021, includes any high risk populations and anyone from the first phases not already vaccinated.

Phase 3 begins in summer and will cover the general population.

CHSS is partnering with over 30 healthcare providers who are registered to administer the vaccine in order to meet the demand.

The Moderna vaccine requires two doses, 1 month apart. It is incredibly important for everyone to receive the second dose from the same manufacturer. Plans for phases II and III will include the coordination of drive-thru immunization clinics throughout Cochise County which will be scheduled approximately four weeks apart. CHSS will announce these clinics and who is eligible to receive the vaccine at www.cochise.az.gov, the County’s Facebook page, and other media outlets.

Where did the active cases by zip code information go on the County’s COVID-19 website? Many residents have noticed the absence of zip code data from the County’s website. In order to report the number of active cases by zip code, we must know the number of cases released from isolation. With the recent increase in cases in Cochise County (1,868 between Dec. 1st and Dec. 18th) we are no longer able to keep up with this measure. We urge the public not to base behavior on the number of COVID-19 cases by zip code because people travel through multiple zip codes daily.

Thompson further reminds that, “While the news of a vaccine is exciting, we encourage everyone to continue to be diligent about wearing masks properly, washing their hands, and staying a safe distance from others. Act as if everyone may have the COVID-19 virus everywhere you go whether it is at work, the store or any other gathering place.”

Further information on the Moderna vaccine can be found on the FDA Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers. The County continues to post daily updates to its COVID-19 website (https://covid-cochisehealth.hub.arcgis.com/) to include information related to local guidelines, response efforts and resources. The public is encouraged to visit it regularly for official information.

Submitted by Cochise County