SOMERTON — Somerton police officers and firefighters will be able to quarantine themselves at the Cocopah Resort and Conference Center as a way to prevent spread of COVID-19.
The Somerton City Council has approved a resolution declaring the resort as a shelter for officers and firefighters after being exposed to people suspected of or confirmed as having the novel coronavirus.
The resolution includes a letter of support signed by Araceli Juarez, Somerton’s police chief, and Paul De Anda, the city’s fire chief.
De Anda said Somerton police officers and firefighters would stay temporarily in rooms in the Cocopah Indian Tribe’s resort while being observed, preventing the possibility of spreading the virus.
“As an example, if while attending to a person who has symptoms of or is infected by the virus, one of our officers or firefighters is exposed, we don’t want that officers to expose his co-workers or family members to the virus,” he said.
The officers and firefighters suspected of being infected would be tested, and would stay for two to three days in the rooms to allow their health to be monitored, De Anda said. In the meantime, their personal equipment and workplaces would be sanitized.
Since the outbreak locally of the coronavirus, Somerton police officers or firefighters have answered calls for assistance by people with symptoms of COVID-19, of whom about six ended up being infected the virus.
He said the firefighters and police officers all wear protective equipment on duty, and so far, none have tested positive for COVID-19.
The partnership was an initiative of Cocopah Emergency Manager Mike Fila, said Jonathan Athens, director of communications for the tribe.
“This partnership is our way of supporting the community and the first responders who are on the frontline of the fight to stop COVID19,” Athens said.
“If a first responder gets tested, he or she will be able to stay at the hotel while waiting on the results rather than go home and risk infecting their loved ones. If the first responder tests positive, he or she will be able to stay at the hotel for the duration of their 14-day quarantine,” Athens said.
“Working together we will get through this difficult time. We are grateful for the police officers, firefighters, and paramedics for their continuing efforts and selfless dedication to keeping us all healthy.”
Athens said the tribe and the city of Somerton also recently partnered on a series of public service announcements encouraging the public to “Stay Safe, Stay Well, and Stay Home.”
The declaration approved by the council allows the tribe to be reimbursed for room use with funds from the Federal Emergency Management Administration, De Anda said.
De Anda said that the resort could also serve as a shelter for police and firefighters from the Cocopah Tribe, the city of San Luis, Ariz., and for other public safety agencies that operate in the south county.