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Arizona county officials consider rescinding virus emergency

October 7, 2020 GMT

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. (AP) — Officials in an Arizona county plan to wait until later in the week before deciding whether to rescind an ongoing state of emergency resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Mohave County officials are unsure what impact the decision may have on grant funding distributed by the state, Today’s News Herald reported Monday.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors has scheduled a special meeting Thursday in Kingman to discuss the possible consequences for the county’s $9.1 million in federal coronavirus relief funding.

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Board members said they want to wait until more information is available before deciding whether to lift the emergency order.

Officials have questioned the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs about the funding, County Manager Sam Elters said.

The county declared a state of emergency in March following a statewide declaration by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.

The declaration gives Board of Supervisors Chair Jean Bishop authority over opening businesses, schools and county buildings.

Bishop opposed rescinding the emergency declaration during a board meeting in Kingman Monday.

“I don’t see any advantage to rescinding it other than as a victory for people who have been really opposed to the change in their lifestyle,” Bishop said.

While some members of the board expressed support for becoming the first Arizona county to rescind its emergency proclamation, County Attorney Ryan Esplin advised caution.

“If we lose our declaration of emergency, it sends a message to the state that says, ‘We don’t think we’re in an emergency now’. The state may decide that we don’t need the CARES Act funding, and that we’ll have to pay it back,” Esplin said.

Esplin said he believes the declaration should remain in place because its removal “creates an increased risk to the county.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services on Tuesday reported 604 additional known COVID-19 cases and 20 additional deaths, increasing the state’s totals to 222,538 cases and 5,733 deaths.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.