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Maricopa’s Emergency Operations Center activated to combat COVID-19

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

PHOENIX — The same day Arizona’s total confirmed cases of coronavirus rose to 18, Maricopa County’s Emergency Operations Center was activated to support the county’s efforts to combat the growing outbreak.

“Once we started seeing the extent of this event, we determined that by activating our EOC… we could assist and help support public health in what has turned out to be a pretty complicated response,” Robert Rowley, director of Maricopa County’s Department of Emergency Management, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.

Rowley explained that there are three levels of EOC activation in which level one is their monitoring, day-to-day state of preparedness.

Level two — the level at which the EOC is now operating — signifies the entire Department of Emergency Management staff working together within the EOC on the same project.

The highest level, level three, would bring together the Department of Emergency Management, all partner agencies and county departments in order to formulate real-time emergency decisions.

Referencing level three, Rowley said: “We’re not quite to that point yet, but we definitely have enough to do right now with just our department staff.”

The initial priorities of the EOC upon level two activation are to support Maricopa County by tracking and taking inventory of protective equipment currently available to the Valley’s emergency responders, Rowley explained.

“Another objective that we had was trying to get a good situational awareness… of what the overall effects across the county has been.”

Rowley said this includes monitoring events such as school closures, event closures, emergency declarations and determining the overall impact of COVID-19 throughout the Valley, while also helping cities and business access federal funding when available.

Rowley also explained that information coordination among government agencies is a top priority in order to ensure that the public is receiving timely, accurate updates

Tribal nations within Maricopa County have their own emergency managers as well, which Rowley said the EOC is also working with to aid their response to coronavirus.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report 

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