As the total number of COVID-19 cases surpass 12,000 in Yuma County, daily reports over the last couple of weeks have shown a downward trajectory in the number of cases reported. The health director for Yuma County says it could be a result of effective safety measures.
"We are seeing a downward trend in positive cases and I would like to think that means that as a community overall we are doing a better job of taking care of each other," said Director of the Yuma County Health District Diane Gomez, during an episode of Arizona Edition in early August. "We have had a mask mandate in place for a few weeks now."
The state has released guidelines and benchmarks for safely reopening schools throughout Arizona. The three benchmarks are a decline in new cases overall, a decrease in the percentage of positive diagnostic tests for COVID-19, and fewer virus-related hospitalizations. Each of these benchmarks must be met for two weeks in order for schools to open to in-person leraning.
Schools have been proactive and working with the county to develop an emergency plan of what to do if there is a case within the school, Gomez said.
"Our role from a public health perspective is to continue to support them, to continue to work with them, to push out those guidelines and identify the best practices to keep students and faculty safe," she said.
The county has also helped schools with personal protective gear, which includes thermometers and gloves.
In the absence of a vaccine and standardized treatment, Gomez says the best thing anyone can do to protect themselves and prevent the spread is to get tested.
"You should get tested if you are symptomatic," she said. Or if you think you may have been exposed to the virus. Gomez also says taking an antibody test can be just as important and notes the tests are readily available throughout the county.
Gomez spoke to KAWC on August 7th. For the latest virus updates and information on school reopening plans, visit the state and county COVID-19 websites.