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Navajo County Responds to COVID-19

Chairman Jason Whiting visits the Navajo County EOC
Near the end of March 2020, as COVID-19 cases began to rise in Navajo County, an EOC was formed and activated to help our county and communities respond to the crisis in a unified and efficient manner.
What is an EOC?
An Emergency Operations Center, or EOC, is a central command and control facility responsible for carrying out the principles of emergency preparedness and emergency management, or disaster management functions at a strategic level during an emergency.
In this case, the emergence of COVID-19 in our area necessitated such a response.  Navajo County leaders came together to activate an EOC with many county employees and partners coming together, in-person or virtually, to face COVID-19 head-on. When asked what they had learned working in Navajo County’s EOC, one heartfelt member summed it up, “I have learned that if we push past the fear that we are not capable of doing things we have never done and, instead, extend ourselves to serving others who are most vulnerable with all we have to give, we find that we have an overwhelming amount of courage within ourselves to push beyond limits we never knew we were capable of. Humbly serving can be our greatest source of strength.”
What does a COVID-19 EOC look like in Navajo County?
With our Public Health Director, Jeff Lee, serving at the head, the Navajo County Emergency Operations Center has utilized many different departments to fulfill county needs. Using a pattern set forth by the Department of Federal Emergency Management Agency, our Navajo County EOC has sections for all necessary departments: Operations, Logistics, Finance, Planning, Public Information, and more. The organization and structure of our EOC is effectively adaptable.  As the needs of COVID-19 shift, our EOC shifts along with it.  To adhere to social distancing and safety precautions, the Emergency Operations Center shifted from in-person to virtual to a hybrid model of both. The number of personnel needed has fluctuated as well, growing and shrinking based on need. Deborah Huish, a Child Care Health Consultant who joins our EOC specifically to assist in COVID-related child care needs, stated she’s come to appreciate, “the number of people it takes to run the EOC and what they do. Many community members don’t realize the planning and many hours of extra work it has taken to meet many needs and to ensure that the county has minimal interruptions in their lives and continue to receive their needed services.”
Who will you find in our EOC?
Aside from Public Health Director, Jeff Lee, you will find our hard-working Emergency Management team, Public Health nurses, Assistant County Manager Bryan Layton (heading up our public information team), and various other county employees working together for the greater good of Navajo County.  Through many community, tribal, state and federal partnerships, our Navajo County EOC members work tirelessly to contact trace COVID-19 throughout Navajo County, fulfil resource requests from various partners, provide supplies, services, and information to residents. Rhonda Krouse, EOC Planning Section Chief, when asked what was the most rewarding part of working in the EOC stated, “Getting to know all the partners we have in Navajo County and seeing firsthand how we are all able to come together in a high priority incident and make it work.”
Public Health Nurse Mauriah Walker echoed her statements, “I appreciate seeing everyone pull together for the good of the community. That’s important to everyone, to have a healthy, safe community. Technology has been a huge help during covid. I also appreciate my co-workers so much as they are feeling a lot of the same things I feel and get overwhelmed with.” Walker works with our Public Health nursing team to contact trace COVID-19 in our county. Their contact tracing efforts have been pivotal in helping to slow the spread of COVID-19, and they were recognized at a national level through an interview with The New York Times, explained in a video by CBSN.
Navajo County Public Health Nursing Supervisor Janelle Linn remarked on the physical and emotional toll COVID-19 has taken but added it has been rewarding, “Knowing that I am making a difference in keeping our community safe and healthy.  I’ve also enjoyed the connection and relationships built with community members throughout the contact tracing and patient monitoring for those who are impacted by and isolated with COVID.”
Navajo County’s EOC is a tight-knit community within communities, working hard and caring for neighbors on an accelerated level.  Their dedication is felt and appreciated the county over.

Navajo County Government met with Shelley Ehmann, Chief Operating Officer at Change Point to discuss mental health during COVID-19 times.

Eli Bierman, Public Health Associate to Navajo County, Receives Prestigious Award 

Eli Bierman receives CDC’s Outstanding PHAP of the Year Award

The Outstanding PHAP (Public Health Associate Program) of the Year is an award the CDC presents to one of their associates each year during the PHAP graduation ceremony.  Host sites nominate their PHAP’s if they feel their accomplishments warrant consideration and write a summary of the activities they performed that qualify them for the award. 
Bierman's Supervisor, Navajo County Public Health Nusring Supervisor Janelle Linn, submitted a nomination based on Bierman's ingenuity and efficiency in implementing a project to reduce STD numbers in Navajo County. She states, "
He spearheaded forming a community-wide STD workgroup that consists of key community partners... He has been able to successfully unite tribal and non-tribal entities in a way that has resulted in consistent and unified messaging, as well as unified efforts to set objectives and build strategies that can be applied in both tribal and non-tribal communities across our county.  He has gained the respect of all community partners and has been the driving force in the success of intervention strategies across our county.  He has built a communication and resource infrastructure that will be sustainable even once his assignment to our host site ends.  This was no easy task, yet one that he successfully accomplished in a relatively short period of time.  His efforts have greatly aided our community in debunking the stigma and myths that surround the topic of STDs and his innovative approach has helped the community recognize our STD problem and for the first time EVER, unite in working toward resolutions."

To add to his recommendation, Linn added, "Eli was an exceptional PHAP and the value we received during his two year assignment with us is beyond measure.  Him being chosen as this year’s recipient was well deserved."  Eli came to us with a BS in Public Health from Tulane University and since completing his CDC PHAP assignment with us, has moved on to start his graduate program at Yale University and is pursuing a career in epidemiology.

We wish him all the luck and have full confidence he will be an asset wherever he goes. 

Navajo County Readies for Elections

PLEASE NOTE: This episode below was filmed before COVID-19 hit our area. During COVID-19, all polls will be open for in-person voting on election day as well as for early voting. We encourage taking safety precautions while out in public, including social distancing, wearing a mask when social distancing isn't possible, washing/sanitizing your hands, and staying home when you aren't feeling well.
In this episode of County Connections, Navajo County Elections Director, Rayleen Richards, and former Navajo County Recorder Doris Clark sat down with Supervisor Daryl Seymore to discuss elections processes, from nominations to mail-in ballots to our ability to track ballots for those who sign up for the free service.
Click Here to Visit Navajo County Elections Online

Navajo County Counts in 2020

CENSUS UPDATE: The U.S. Census Bureau announced it will continue counting individuals through October 31, 2020 (read more HERE). 
Every Arizonan deserves to be counted and a complete count is important to ensure that Arizona receives its fair share of federal funding and representation.

How is Navajo County measuring up?
As of October 7th, 2020, the state of Arizona is showing a 99.5% response rate: 63.9% have been self-response while the remaining 35.6% were follow-up responses from Census enumerators. Navajo County is showing a self-response rate of 34.3%, with 21.4% coming directly from internet responses.
Completing the Census: Residents that have not yet filled out the Census can do so by visiting, by calling the Census at 844-330-2020, or by mailing back the questionnaire they may have received in the mail. Until October 31st, 2020, census takers are still active in communities, and residents who have not yet responded may expect a socially distant visit from an official Census taker utilizing a mobile questionnaire.

As we've followed the 2020 Census reponse rates, we've tracked our individual tribal areas, cities, and towns and utilized local mascots to present weekly results on our social media pages. 
The most recent results show 
The Snowflake Lobos maintain the lead with a 55.5% census self-response rate.
Holbrook Roadrunners are *right* behind at 55.0%. Winslow Bulldogs are in third at 53.8%. Taylor, AZ comes in at 51.5%. Show Low Cougars are at 43.3%, Joseph City Wildcats are at 40.1%, Pinetop-Lakeside and their Blueridge Yellowjackets are at 35.1%, Heber/Overgaard and their Mogollon Mustangs are at 24.3%.
Our tribal lands are each counted as a whole, and we've assigned their mascots based on prominent mascots in our county.
The Ft. Apache Falcons have a census self-response rate of 22.2%, Navajo Nation Mustangs are at 21.4%, and The Hopi Bruins are at 18.2%.
Though they aren't in first place, the Ft. Apache Falcons once again had by far the biggest gain this week: 3.1%
Navajo County Public Works Installs a Culvert

Navajo County Sheriff's Office Issues Life-Saving Awards 

In recent months, the Sheriff Clouse and Chief Swanty presented life-saving awards to a few hard-working individuals. 
Pictured above: Sergeant. Young, Nurse Shirlene, Sergeant Shaw, and Sergeant Munsee.
Pictured below (left): Deputy Dan Feller
Pictured below (right): Deputy Clay Hunt
On September 4th Navajo County Sheriff's Office had 18 new SAV’s (Auxiliary Volunteers) graduate from their academy. The Navajo County SAV provide valuable support to the Sheriff's Office and the citizens of the county. 
Chief Joe Shelly met up with Navajo County Government to discuss child sex trafficking: Know the signs and tune in for some educational resources!
Shortcake with a Deputy!
On September 9th, the Sheriff's Office did Shortcake with a Deputy in Heber, AZ. This afforded the public and community of Heber/Overgaard to come meet the deputies who patrol their area.

Understanding Points of Dispensing

Points of dispensing (POD) are locations throughout the community at which state and local agencies dispense and administer medical countermeasures (MCMs) to the public.  These MCMs are used to prevent, lesson, or treat the harmful health effects of an intentional, accidental, or naturally occurring public health emergency, such as an anthrax release or pandemic, for example.
Once the MCMs are received in the community, the local public health department will utilize two types of PODs, open and closed, to dispense medication to the public in a timely and efficient manner. Open PODs are typically located at public locations such as community centers, or schools and are often run by the local public health agency.  Closed PODs are sites that are staffed and managed by both public and private organizations and agencies to dispense MCMs to their own internal populations. Open and closed PODs are often used simultaneously.
Now that you understand the basics of the POD system, if you have ever been to a drive through vaccination clinic in Navajo County (perhaps at a fire station) and received your free flu shot, you have been a participant in a POD exercise.  Each year, Navajo County partners with local fire districts and Summit Healthcare to practice the POD system through these vaccination sites.   These “practice” events or exercises allow personnel to stay up to date in the operation of a POD and modify plans as necessary to make the event more efficient for a real-world emergency.  As a participant in a POD exercise, residents not only assist local first responders and the public health agency in gaining valuable insight and experience to the POD, but also advance their own knowledge on how the process will occur in a real-world emergency.


The Navajo County Board of Supervisors Meetings are currently being held virtually! The Board of Supervisors welcome the public to their virtual monthly meetings that start at 9 a.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month.

At the beginning of every meeting is a call to the public, where residents can voice their concerns and/or ideas to the Board.

To subscribe to the agenda and meeting minutes, which will then be emailed to you, go to:
Click on the agenda date that you would like to attend and in the body of the agenda there is a link to the zoom meeting. It changes for each meeting.

The Jordan Smith family enjoyed an autumn family outing at the local Willis Family Farm, located in Snowflake, AZ.  Picture shared with permission from family.
Copyright © 2020 Navajo County Government, All rights reserved.
Writer and Editor: Alicia Deets
Review Staff: Glenn Kephart, Bryan Layton, Melissa Buckley, and the Board of Supervisors

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