In two weeks, northern Gila County’s testing site will close for lack of job applicants.

Josh Beck, head of Gila County’s response to the pandemic, found out the news on Dec. 2.

“I’m losing my last COVID staff member from Payson,” he said. “In two weeks, I will no longer have any staff in Payson and not a single person has applied in the last six months.”

Since May, residents of Payson and the surrounding area have had access to fast and free testing for COVID in town by Gila County. The county offers not only the very accurate PCR test, but the antibody finger prick test.

The job requires someone willing to suit up in PPE to swab folks infected with a disease that has killed a lot of people.

“The job is a tough one,” said Beck. “Contact tracing, disease investigations, and lately a lot of COVID testing.”

And that’s the problem. No one wants exposure to COVID.

“So, it takes someone not afraid of being around COVID people all day long, swabbing people’s noses, dealing with the ones that yell at you for believing in COVID or just for being part of ‘the government,’” said Beck.

It’s discouraged Beck most of his hires have been recent graduates who use the job “as a steppingstone for other positions.”

“COVID-19 testing in Payson will take a real hit until we find more staff,” said Beck.

For those who need a test because of close contact, prepping for surgery or travel, finding a fast, reliable test will take time and resources after the county’s testing site closes in Payson, unless the county finds a solution to its staffing problem.

Contact the reporter at mnelson@payson.com

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Avoid obscene, hateful, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful.
Be Nice. No name-calling, racism, sexism or any sort of -ism degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article. Real names only!