Mayor Doug Nicholls examines the mental health aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic - News 11's Brandon Mejia reports
YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA) - While cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in Yuma County the total number of cases inches closer to 15,000 with 365 deaths linked to the virus.
While vaccine candidates like Pfizer continue through phase three trials, one may not hit the public for weeks, months or even years.
"Frankly this is all up to our community, the way we go from the moment you hear this for the next month or two or three is purely up to us in Yuma County," said Kevin Tunell, Emergency Management Public Information Officer for Yuma County." At this point there is no vaccine, we are the vaccine."
When a vaccine is cleared for distribution the county will be ready according to Tunell. He along with the county see all the COVID-19 cases and deaths reported first hand.
"I do receive all the numbers, all the data. It is my job to assemble all that data and push it out at three o'clock," Tunell said. Everyday at that time the county releases its daily update with numbers from Yuma Regional Medical Center as well.
However it is a collaboration between all local governments and stakeholders and they do it through a Joint Information Center (JIC).
This wasn't anything new for Tunell, who served on the crisis response team in 2005 when hurricane Katrina hit. "It is a totally different disaster, totally different set of circumstances and far more complex than Katrina, for me personally," he said.
While following the COVID-19 data since March, June and July saw its highest number of COVID-19 cases reported in a day and the deaths were steadily increasing.
"Every person that gets sick and heaven forbid every person that dies from this thing weighs heavy on us as elected leaders, as members of the community, as people who have been here long term," said Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls.
The number of COVID-19 cases began its downward trajectory in late August into September. However the Mayor is still concerned about three major aspects of the pandemic. The health of the community, the economic impact and the mental health repercussions.
"I think we are really going to end up in a spot where the mental health aspect I don't think has been looked at enough," Mayor Nicholls said. "I am working on some things with some of our local non-profits to address that but being able to get out and having interactions at some level is important to the mental health of people."
The Mayor along with the city wants to look at better ways to keep tabs on people's mental health. "By that, I don't mean government intervention but as community members," he said.