COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in Graham and Greenlee counties

Graham County lists 1,053 total, 764 recovered, and 262 active

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – COVID-19 cases are on the rise throughout the country and Graham and Greenlee counties are no different.

Cases continue to rise by daily double digits in Graham County, and Greenlee County just reported its second significant jump for that county in about three months.

However, Graham County is still in the moderate transmission status for business reopening despite its cases per 100,000 individuals being raised past the 100 person threshold to 114 during the week of Sept. 20 and 146 during the week of Sept 27. The Arizona Department of Health Services’ metrics are two weeks behind actual numbers, and when the new metrics come out next week Graham County is in danger of failing that two metrics, putting it back into the “substantial transmission” category for having two consecutive weeks of more than 100 cases per 100,000 individuals and two weeks of percent positivity over 10 percent. The percent positivity for the week of Sept. 27 was listed at 12.5 percent.

A free testing blitz will be held at the Graham County Fairgrounds on Friday from 6 a.m. – 1 p.m. Click here for details.  

On Tuesday, the Graham County Department of Health and Human Services reported 15 new positive results for COVID-19, with eight from the San Carlos Apache Tribe, four from Safford, two from Thatcher, and one from Pima..

The new results lifted Graham County’s total to 1,053 for the course of the pandemic.

Lowering number of cases is required for shuttered businesses to reopen from Governor Doug Ducey’s executive order mandate. As of the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) most recent metrics, Graham County has a current total positivity rate of 9.9 percent.

The latest release from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) shows Graham County does not meet two out of three benchmarks for school reopening – which is only a recommendation. The GCDHHS recently recommended schools returning to a distance learning mode, however, the Safford Unified School District Governing Board voted 4-1 to continue to have in-person instruction and the topic wasn’t event considered at any other local school district to date.

The business reopening metrics, which are required, are currently in the yellow or “moderate” level, which allows for the reopening of most previously shuttered businesses. However, those metrics could possibly change for the worse in the coming weeks. 

As of Tuesday, the Graham County Department of Health and Human Services reports 1,053 total confirmed cases, with 764 recovered and 262 actives. According to GCDHHS criteria, a positive test is not considered a recovered patient until they have 30 days symptom-free. Graham County has about 39,000 residents.

A total of 27 people, mostly all over the age of 65 and who had pre-existing health conditions, have died with COVID-19 in Graham County. 

According to the state’s database, Graham County’s positive test cases include 230 who are under 20 years of age, 453 between 20-44, 116 between 45-54, 100 between 55-64, and 153 who are 65 years old or older.

Greenlee County

The Greenlee County Health Department reported an increase of seven new positive tests on Monday, raising its total to 81.

As of Monday, the health department has administered tests to 1,453 people, with 1,369 being negative, 81 positives, and three results pending. The county has 22 active cases, 57 recovered cases, and two deaths. Greenlee County has about 10,000 residents.

The breakdown of the Greenlee cases include five under the age of 20, 45 between 20-44, 17 between 45-54, 11 between 55-64, and four who are 65 years old or older, according to the ADHS. Greenlee County currently has a total positivity rate of 4.3 percent and is in the green, minimal transmission status for both school and business metrics.

San Carlos Apache Tribe

The San Carlos Apache Tribe stretches into both Graham and Gila counties and its cases add to the respective counties’ cases based on the geography of where the patients reside.

On Tuesday, the San Carlos Apache Tribe Department of Health & Human Services reported 22 new cases. To date, the Tribe has administered tests to 10,044 people with 8,351 negatives, 1,500 positives, and 193 results pending.

The Tribe lists 221 currently active cases, with 1,263 recovered cases, and 16 deaths.

The area breakdown on the reservation includes Gilson Wash – 261 positive, 189 recovered, 67 active, five deaths; Peridot – 516 positive, 416 recovered, 92 active, eight deaths; 7-Mile – 313 positive, 273 recovered, 38 active, two deaths; Bylas – 324 positive, 305 recovered, 18 active, one death; other areas – 86 positive, 80 recovered, six active.   


For the state, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 1,040 new cases Tuesday to bring the total to 232,937 for the state. It reported just seven new deaths to bring the total fatalities due, at least in part, to COVID-19 to and amended 5,837 in Arizona. The state has about 7.3 million residents and nearly two million tests have been taken.  

Reported positive cases in the various counties include Maricopa County with 150,881, Pima County – 27,019, Yuma County – 13,284, Pinal County – 11,476, Navajo County – 6,149, Coconino County – 4,789, Mohave County – 4,211, Apache County – 3,798, Santa Cruz County – 2,957, Yavapai County – 2,798, Cochise County – 2,062, Gila County – 1,772, Graham County – 1,053, La Paz County – 606, Greenlee County – 82 (county lists it at 81).

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