Gila County just received a boost in spending to help the health department continue services during the pandemic.

The Gila County Board of Supervisors approved three intergovernmental agreements with the Arizona Department of Health Services Sept. 15 to bring $1.7 million into the coffers of its Health and Emergency Management Department.

Two of the funding awards are to help the county’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The third is to continue the department’s Maternal and Child Health program.

The largest award is $1.6 million and does not require any kind of match from the county.

Michael O’Driscoll, director of the Gila County Health and Emergency Management Department, said the money will help pay for a variety of costs associated with the COVID-19 response: salaries, the purchase of test kits, and hiring support staff.

The primary goals: create a fully implemented, scalable, and sustainable, comprehensive disease investigation, detection, surveillance, and rapid response section to the county’s Health Emergency Operations Center. It will also be used for expanded testing, contact tracing, and increase community prevention.

County Manager James Menlove said this funding also helps save the county between $200,000 and $300,000.

The second COVID-19 funding from ADHS would help the health department to address complaints received about businesses failing to adopt, adhere to, and comply with measures to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The department staff working in the environmental health division will visit the establishments and provide education and recommendations aligned with guidance provided by the CDC and ADHS, including: physical distancing by avoiding close contact (within six feet) with others, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, wearing cloth face coverings, and adhering to all required capacity limits.

O’Driscoll told the BOS that every time the governor issues an executive order regarding businesses, new complaints arise, so the money helps cover the cost of the increased volume of investigations.

The third IGA with ADHS, for $102,673, allows the health department to continue a 10-year program. It provides services in family planning and strategies that enhance preventive and primary care services for pregnant women, mothers, and infants up to age 1. The funds were included in a grant — money was awarded and spent. Now, the program funds are on cost-reimbursement contracts and not a fixed price.

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