At its May 4 meeting the Gila County Board of Supervisors gladly approved an amendment to its intergovernmental agreement with the Arizona Department of Health Services to increase the state’s grant award by $300,762 for immunization services to enhance COVID-19 activities and vaccination efforts.

With this latest infusion of money to fight COVID-19, the Gila County Health and Emergency Management Department has received $5.4 million from the ADHS and Centers for Disease Control, said Michael O’Driscoll, director of the health department.

The funds must be used to provide vaccines, contact tracing and surveillance, he said.

O’Driscoll told the supervisors his department is having difficulty in finding people to fill the extra positions the grant awards have made possible. “We are looking into seeing if we can contract out some of these jobs,” he said.

District 3 Supervisor Woody Cline asked if the vaccine distribution had tapered off. O’Driscoll said it had, but about 80% of the county’s residents 65 and older have had the vaccine.

He said those 18 to 40 or so are the ones who are not getting the vaccine unless they offer it when they have a day off or it is convenient for them.

In a week or two they are expecting to see the Pfizer vaccine approved for use in those 12 to 18 and his office hopes to work with the school districts to get as many in that age group vaccinated as they can before the end of the school year.

In other health department business

The health department wants to end its agreement with Humane Society of Central Arizona to shelter animals the county picks up in northern Gila County. The supervisors agreed to allow the health department to send a letter of termination of the arrangement.

O’Driscoll said the county’s Animal Care and Control Department only picks up about 20 animals a year in the area. Once the new shelter is completed in Globe, it will be more cost effective to bring the animals there.

Currently, the contract the county has with the Humane Society of Central Arizona is for $38,000 per year. The change will save the county from $25,000 to $30,000 a year, O’Driscoll told the supervisors.

He said he had discussed the matter with the chair of the humane society board, Wendy Larchick, and he said she understood the reasoning.

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