Photo Courtesy CDC: Graham and Greenlee counties should begin administering the first doses of the Moderna vaccine within a week.
By Jon Johnson
GRAHAM COUNTY – With the hope of a vaccine roughly a week away from the start of distribution in Graham County, four more deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic were reported over the weekend.
According to the Graham County Department of Health and Human Services (GCDHHS), the death of a Thatcher resident between the ages of 55-64 was reported Saturday, and on Sunday the deaths of three Safford residents – one between the ages of 45-54 and two older than 65 years old – were reported on Sunday. All four deaths were attributed to the COVID-19 virus, bringing the total deaths for the county to 46 since the start of the pandemic.
In addition to the four deaths, the GCDHHS reported 55 new cases, with 29 from Safford, 12 from the San Carlos Apache Tribe, eight from Pima, and six from Thatcher.
On Friday, the vaccine from Moderna was given emergency use authorization and has begun distribution. Graham and Greenlee counties are expected to receive initial doses of the Moderna vaccine within the week and begin inoculation of essential healthcare workers shortly thereafter. The counties – like other rural counties – will not receive the Pfizer vaccine due to its need to store it at an extremely cold temperature.
After healthcare workers, those next to receive the vaccine will be elderly in long-term care, law enforcement, those in prisons and jails, teachers, essential employees, and then those over 65 with high-risk medical conditions.
The vaccine will be free and should be more widely available to the general population in the next few months, however, healthcare workers are warning of a “surge on a surge” due to the Christmas holiday and encourage the populace to remain vigilant by washing their hands frequently, wearing masks, utilizing physical distancing when possible, and avoiding large gatherings.
As of Sunday, the GCDHHS reported 2,795 total cases, with 1,755 recovered, 994 active, and 46 deaths. The breakdown of cases include 554 under the age of 20, 1,195 between the ages of 20-44, 352 between the ages of 45-54, 302 between the ages of 55-64, and 376 who are 65 or older.
As of Sunday, the Greenlee County Health Department has administered 3,350 tests, with 2,990 negative and 360 positive.
It lists 129 active cases, with 228 recovered and three deaths.
The Arizona Department of Health Services’ dashboard lists Greenlee County’s breakdown of 354 cases to be 54 less than 20 years old, 169 between the ages of 20-44, 54 between the ages of 45-54, 444 between the ages of 55-64, and 33 who are 65 years or older.
On Sunday, the ADHS listed 5,366 new cases to bring its total for the pandemic to 453,597 in Arizona. The department also listed 34 new deaths on Sunday, to bring the total for Arizona to 7,971 dead attributed to COVID-19.
The state also began administering the first approved vaccine last week.
The breakdown of total cases by county includes Maricopa with 279,885, Pima – 59,116, Yuma – 24,592, Pinal – 23,742, Navajo – 10,301, Coconino – 9,993, Yavapai – 9,366, Mohave – 9,937, Apache – 6,862, Cochise – 6,122, Santa Cruz – 5,362, Gila – 4,005, Graham – 2,795, La Paz – 1,165, and Greenlee – 354 (county lists it at 360).