BISBEE — The number of positive cases of COVID-19 is declining significantly in the county and the county’s allotment of the vaccine is going up next week, officials said in a pair of welcomed announcements earlier this week.

Cochise Health and Social Services Director Alicia Thompson told Board of Supervisors members Ann English, Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby the county is set to receive 3,400 vaccine doses next week, three times the number of what was received last week. Though the county would still like to have more vaccine available, the partners asked for 5,000 doses, the state controls the number of vaccine doses coming to Cochise County.

Thompson has been cautious so as not to waste one single dose of the vaccine, unlike the recently reported Maricopa County waste of 553 doses from five distribution sites over a 30-day period from Dec. 17 to Jan. 20. KPHO-TV in Phoenix discovered the waste after receiving documents from a public records request.

Thompson said the county will have enough to distribute more second doses and give the people who meet the criteria for the Phase 1B their first shots as well.

In an effort to help people with no access to the internet and those 75 and over who have trouble signing up on the state site, staff all the satellite offices around the county were taking names for a wait list. However, the list grew quickly to 3,000 names and Thompson thought it was best to not take any more names and closed the list.

Now the county has a webpage with answers to frequently asked questions and links to various retail pharmacy locations, she said.

The links are to Chiricahua Community Health Centers, Fry’s Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy, Safeway Pharmacy, Walmart Pharmacy and Benson Hospital.

It should be noted the pharmacies may or may not have started up vaccination programs. As of Friday, only the Benson Safeway and Benson Hospital were taking appointments for inoculations. They buy the vaccine directly from the federal government.

Benson Hospital states on its link, “You can also call (520) 586-2261 to register and answer pre-screening questions. Registration is mandatory. Appointments fill quickly and are currently fully booked 1 to 2 weeks out, and the current waiting list is lengthy.”

Thompson said, “We have no information on how they’re working out.”

Craig Janiszewski, Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) coordinator, praised the county’s partners, which include Copper Queen Community Hospital (CQCH), Canyon Vista Hospital, Northern Cochise Hospital and Chiricahua Community Health Centers.

“The CQCH gave 500 inoculations in just two days,” he said. “That’s no easy feat.”

He also complimented the Air National Guard’s vaccination team who has been helping out in the county.

“They are an amazing asset,” he continued. “The public commended the team for their professionalism. They are carrying out a much needed mission.”

He also reported since the number of cases has been dropping, the local hospitals are not having problems with beds being available.

For all the information on COVID–19, visit the county website: https://covid-cochisehealth.hub.arcgis.com/.