Graham County active COVID-19 caseload nearing 600; county adds additional COVID death

By Jon Johnson

GRAHAM COUNTY – Graham County continues to weather the surge of COVID-19 cases and currently has 585 active cases. 

The county saw an increase of 95 new cases in the past five days, as well as an additional death attributed to COVID-19 over the weekend. The new death brings the total for the pandemic to 119 and was the sixth death in about a week. 

Last Wednesday, the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center reported a daily average of 12 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 over the previous 14 days. The hospital reported that since Sept. 1, 2021, 92.2 percent of the patients hospitalized for COVID-19 have not been vaccinated.

For the course of the pandemic, Graham County has had 7,714 confirmed cases, with 7,010 recoveries, 585 currently active cases, and 119 deaths. Those numbers give Graham County a virus death rate of 1.54 percent for the county’s confirmed cases. That is slightly better than the state average of 1.81 percent.

There are seven Arizona counties with a higher COVID-19 death rate than Graham, they include Gila, Santa Cruz, Yuma, La Paz, Mohave, Navajo, and the county with the worst rate at nearly 3.5 percent, Apache. 

The majority of cases in Graham County continue to be from the 20-44 age group with 3,611, followed by those under 20 with 1,369 cases, those aged 45-54 with 1,103 cases, those aged 55-64 with 815 cases, those 65 and older with 791 cases, and 25 unknown.

While some cases are asymptomatic or improve within a week or two, other cases have lingered with mild to severe effects for months and even more than a year, while it proves fatal to others. While those who have already had the virus and survived likely have natural antibodies to fight the virus from quickly returning, for those who have not had the virus the best way to avoid catching it is to be vaccinated. 

The Graham County Department of Health and Human Services offers free vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Children 12 and up can receive the Pfizer vaccine, and adults can have any of the three. The department is now offering booster shots for those over the age of 65, immunocompromised population 18 and older, and those in high-exposure jobs who are 18 and older. The health department provides the vaccine Mondays-Wednesdays from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., Thursdays from 2 – 5 p.m., and the Pfizer vaccine on Thursdays and Fridays from 5 – 7:30 p.m. Click here to register to receive a vaccine.  

While perhaps a little late to adopt, Graham County has seen its vaccination rate increase as of late and the number of vaccine doses given continues to outpace the number of new cases. On Tuesday, the health department reported two new cases versus 158 doses of vaccine given for the previous day.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Graham County has an overall vaccination rate of 66.9 percent of the “eligible population.” However, vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are both expected to be approved for youth as young as 5 years old. Previously, Pfizer’s vaccine had been given emergency-use authorization for those as young as 5. 

According to the CDC, 78.8 percent of the adult population of Graham County has had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 70 percent being fully vaccinated. The same chart lists residents who are 65 and older with 99.9 percent having at least one dose and 95 percent being fully vaccinated.

Greenlee County

The Greenlee County Health Department last reported 12 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, bringing its active caseload to 125. 

For the course of the pandemic, Greenlee County has had 1,179 confirmed cases, with 1,138 recoveries, 125 currently active cases, and 16 deaths. Those statistics give Greenlee County a virus death rate of 1.35 percent for its confirmed cases.