BULLHEAD CITY — Feelings are still mixed about Bullhead City Mayor Tom Brady’s latest order to shut down beach and boat launch access at city parks each Friday, Saturday and Sunday until after Labor Day in an effort to slow the community spread of COVID-19.
A lack of efforts by Colorado River recreationers to protect themselves against the virus over the Fourth of July weekend alarmed city officials and a number of residents.
Some citizens were relieved to see such an action taken. Others were unhappy about the mayor’s decision.
Brady already had issued an order requiring people to wear face coverings while in public indoor areas and businesses after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey allowed local governments to decide whether to do it.
Again, voluntary compliance wasn’t occurring as much as was hoped.
“Our top priority in every decision has been the ability of our medical community and first responders to safely deliver all the resources necessary to those who need treatment from this disease,” Brady explained after deciding to halt access to the Colorado River from more than a dozen points within the city. “This includes hospital beds, ventilators, personal protective equipment, testing and adequate staffing to name just a few.”
The local surge in cases has caused concern about whether there will be ample medical resources for any COVID-19 patients as well as others requiring significant care until the number of cases drastically wanes.
The city council’s declaration of emergency order to combat COVID-19 was approved on March 17. A major reason for the original action is the large number of Bullhead City residents who fall under the CDC’s description of higher risk to become very sick from COVID-19: Age 60 and older, as well as people with chronic conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, can become very ill from the virus.
In Bullhead City, the mayor “shall take command of the police force of the city and govern by proclamation in the event of the threat of or occurrence of acts of natural disaster, riot, rout or affray sufficient to constitute great danger to the city and its residents,” according to Chapter 2.08.050 Section F of the city municipal code.
The virus has since been making its way through the community, affecting people of all ages.
Resolution No. 2020R-15 explained how the city’s COVID-19 Incident Command Team had formed on March 15 as a response to increased resource needs and it’s threat to “public health, safety, and welfare,” as Ducey included in his original statewide emergency declaration.
Disaster or emergency declaration authority may be held by the city council, board of supervisors, mayor, health official, or other entities named by local statute or regulation, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
City officials have regular meetings with first responders, county officials, area hospital management and county and state health officials to aid in decision making.
Fences were set up to keep people off of the beaches at Community and Rotary parks. And city staff members were at not only both parks but 11 other places in the city along the Colorado River to prevent people from entering these locations — areas that allowed people to congregate along the river and places where people could launch watercraft.
Even though people were coming from nearby recreational areas along the river operated by Mohave County as well as from the Nevada side — to a lesser extent — water traffic was noticeably down.
Pople were mostly cooperative when asked to not use Bullhead City beaches or boat launches, according to city officials.
“For the most part, people were good about it,” said Dave Heath, the city’s parks and recreation superintendent, after the first long weekend in which staff watched the closed locations.
Heath said he anticipates this coming weekend might be a bit easier after city workers have been able to see where people seem to want to access local beaches and boat launches.
“It takes as many people to watch and ward off people from the beaches as it does to work at the parks,” Heath said.