Yuma County COVID-19 cases in significant decline
On February 21, Yuma County, Arizona’s daily average of new COVID cases was 65 per day, down fully two-thirds from only two weeks earlier.

Local hospitalizations for COVID also decreased by nearly 40%, though 40 Yuma County residents succumbed to the illness over the previous two weeks. (Photo Credit: Mark Schauer)
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On February 21, Yuma County, Arizona’s daily average of new COVID cases was 65 per day, down fully two-thirds from only two weeks earlier.

Local hospitalizations for COVID also decreased by nearly 40%, though 40 Yuma County residents succumbed to the illness over the previous two weeks.

All told, over 1,100 Yuma County residents have died of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic nearly two years ago.

U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) Commander Col. Patrick McFall elevated the post’s Health Protection Condition to Bravo Plus last month, and urged continued vigilance from the workforce in a commander’s round table video on February 9. Citing the wide availability of COVID vaccines, the mandate to wear face coverings indoors while at work on post, and some of the workforce’s ability to telework where practical, McFall said YPG personnel have the means to protect themselves, their co-workers, and YPG’s mission.

“We have to manage our teammates the way we manage a battle,” McFall said. “We can’t commit everybody, we must have reserves. The number of cases is on a glide path down, but if we aren’t careful, we could potentially be out of teammates when we have to perform a critical mission.”

In Yuma County, 68% of the total population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 73% of the population over the age of five. More than 80% of the local population has received at least one dose of vaccine. Being vaccinated against COVID is still the best protection available against suffering a serious case of COVID-19. As of February 18, 49 of the 64 hospitalized COVID patients in Yuma County--77%-- were unvaccinated. Instances of so-called ‘breakthrough’ infections in individuals who have received the vaccine tend to be less severe than what is experienced by those who are not vaccinated.

Vaccine hesitancy still exists among some, with one belief being that the vaccine causes autoantibodies, or antibodies produced by the immune system that attacks a person’s own body as in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. This belief is not substantiated by medical studies of the vaccine.

“What the research has found is that COVID itself causes this huge inflammatory reaction and does increase autoantibodies, but they did not find that the vaccine caused increased autoantibodies,” said Maj. Ashley Aiton, Officer in Charge of the YPG Health Clinic. “It does cause a mild inflammatory process, but all vaccines do that.”

Vaccines are available at the YPG Health Clinic, the Yuma County Public Health Services District, and multiple private sector pharmacies. The phone number for the YPG Health Clinic is

(928) 328-2666. The phone number for the Yuma County Public Health Services District is (928) 317-4550.

McFall sounded a hopeful note that the Omicron variant’s transmission was subsiding, but stressed that continued vigilance is vital to protecting YPG’s critical mission on behalf of the national defense.

“Understand that we still have a mission to do,” he said. “I ask this one question: what are you doing to protect our YPG Family today?”

McFall noted that YPG has not had to cancel a single test during the pandemic, and safely hosted two iterations of Project Convergence despite doubts from some that it was possible. As of the end of January, YPG had executed 573,000 direct labor hours, on pace to exceed 1.8 million by the end of the fiscal year.

“We never quit during COVID,” said Larry Bracamonte, YPG Technical Director. “We continued to execute our mission efficiently and effectively because everybody was being safe: they were wearing their masks and practicing social distancing. We can continue keeping the workforce safe and executing our mission by doing the same things.”