BISBEE — Although Cochise County does have COVID-19 rapid test machines through the Arizona Department of Health Services, rapid testing kits have been harder to acquire due to lack of funding, according to county Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Craig Janiszewski.
Now the county has $1 million thanks to a grant through ADHS that runs through Feb. 28 to use for COVID-19 rapid testing.
During the Oct. 27 meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Tom Borer, Ann English and Peggy Judd approved the grant that was applied for in July. It will supply thousands of rapid testing kits to facilities that have the machines across the county as requested by Janiszewski.
Increasing testing capacity in Cochise County will allow county officials to know where the virus is and can promote contact tracing. Janiszewski said the kits will allow the county to perform mass testing blitzes if needed.
English noted at the beginning of the pandemic the county had the machines, but no supplies for testing. The grant will enable rapid testing for high risk populations, congregate settings and essential workers.
Borer and English talked about the increase in positive cases in their districts. Both acknowledged positive cases in Douglas and Sierra Vista are on the rise.
English said, “The rise in Douglas doesn’t appear to be from the prison population. These are from community spread. A large portion of the populations of Bisbee and Douglas are good about wearing masks. We need to focus as well on washing hands and social distancing.”
In Sierra Vista, Borer agreed with English and reported, “A lot of people are wearing masks. Most businesses require masks, which is a good thing.”
Though there have been a number of outdoor events in Benson and Willcox, those testing positive remain low.
Judd said it was up to the residents to decide for themselves on the mask issue. “They’re adults. They make their own choices.”
According to the Cochise County Corona Virus Response Hub, as of Friday afternoon 26,546 tests have been administered with 6.3 percent of those positive. There were 185 active cases. There have been 74 deaths.
Janiszewski said in an interview the county has been working with local hospitals and clinics to help them find funding and testing equipment.
“We work with Chiricahua Community Health Clinics, Sierra Vista Medical Center, the Copper Queen Community Hospital and others. We are in constant contact with all our partners,” he added.
HAZMAT $44,807 grant approvedGabe Lavine, Director of Emergency Services, received approval of a $44,807 reallocation grant from the Pipelines Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which annually funds support for emergency preparedness and response efforts in the county.
The money will be used to purchase two Chempro 100i monitors that can detect dangerous chemicals and help determine the location of such leaks. They will be used for training and to limit wear and tear on current machines.
They are used by more than a half dozen different agencies, including local fire departments and districts, County Public Works, County Engineering, County Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Environmental Health Services and the Office of Emergency Management, Lavine said.