Graham County announces two more additional COVID-19 deaths

County now lists 16 deaths due to COVID-19 to increase death rate to nearly 3 percent

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD –  The Graham County Department of Health and Human Services (GCDHHS)announced two additional deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday night.

One victim was a Safford resident over the age of 65 and the other was a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe over the age of 55. The additional deaths make 10 in less than two weeks and bring the county’s total to 16. The recent rise in deaths in Safford can be attributed to a cluster that has hit an elderly section of residents.  

Along with the new death, the county announced six new positive tests to bring the total to 545 cases, according to the GCDHHS.

With the additional positive test numbers and new death, the county’s death rate of those known to be infected raised to 2.93 percent. However, a number of people who get infected show little to no symptoms and do not end up getting tested, so the death rate is likely lower than the one that can be calculated.      

To date, Graham County has administered tests to 3,061 people with 545 positives, 356 active cases, 173 recovered cases, and 16 deaths. 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.

The state’s database lists Graham County’s positive test cases to include 90 who are under 20 years of age, 229 between 20-44, 61 between 45-54, 59 between 55-64, and 105 who are 65 years old or older.

Graham County has a positive PCR (nasal swab) test rate of 11.5 percent and a serology (antibody) test rate of 1.8 percent, giving it a total positive of 9.5 percent in total for the pandemic. According to benchmarks set by the Arizona Department of Health Services for counties to reopen to in-person school instruction, counties should have two weeks with positivity tests below 7 percent. Other benchmarks include a two-week decline in weekly average cases or two weeks below 100  cases per 100,000 population, and two weeks with less than 10 percent of hospital visits due to COVID-19. Graham County has a rate of 1,416.5 cases per 100,000 residents and currently fails at two of the three benchmarks.     

Greenlee County

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Greenlee County EMT Dawna Lizarraga adjusts a sign at the entrance to a free Covid-19 drive-through testing site held recently.

The Greenlee County Health Department previously announced one additional positive test Thursday to bring its current total to 58, however the state lists the county at 57. As of Saturday, the department has administered tests to 934 people, with 810 being negative, 58 positives, and 66 results pending. The county lists 14 active cases, 42 recovered cases, and two deaths. Greenlee County has about 10,000 residents.

Greenlee County only has a positive test rate of 5.5 percent PCR and .8 percent antibody for a total rate of 4.9 percent positive, but its rate of cases is 549 per 100,000 population (according to ADHS numbers). However, it could still register a two-week decrease in weekly average cases and therefore could be eligible to re-open to in-person learning on Aug. 17.

The breakdown of the Greenlee cases includes three under the age of 20, 34 between 20-44, nine between 45-54, seven between 55-64, and five who are 65 years old or older.

San Carlos Apache Tribe

Terry Rambler Photo/Facebook: San Carlos Apache Tribe Chairman Terry Rambler sports a UofA facemask and encourages others to follow his example.

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 Sunday, the San Carlos Apache Tribe Department of Health & Human Services reported four new positive tests for the reservation.

To date, the Tribe has administered tests to 4,827 people with 4.189 negative, 577 positives, and 61 results pending.

The Tribe lists 125 currently active cases, with 448 recovered cases, and four deaths.

The area breakdown on the reservation includes Gilson Wash – 97 positive, 71 recovered, 25 active, one death; Peridot – 203 positive, 168 recovered, 32 active, three deaths; 7-Mile – 96  positive, 71 recovered, 25 active; Bylas – 139 positive, 104 recovered, 35 active; other areas – 42 positive, 34 recovered, eight active.   


For the state, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported just 816 new cases Sunday to bring the total to 186,923 for the state. It added 13 new deaths Sunday to bring the total fatalities due to COVID-19 to 4,150 in Arizona. The numbers of both new positive tests and deaths appear to be trending downward. The state has about 7.3 million residents.

The deaths by age group for the entire state include 2,981 who were 65 years old or older, 629 who were between 55-64, 285 who were between 45-54, 244 who were between 20-44, and 11 who were less than 20 years old. The state currently lists that 83 percent of the intensive care unit (ICU) beds across the state are in use   

Reported positive cases in the various counties include Maricopa County with 126,053 Pima County – 17,880, Yuma County – 11,510, Pinal County – 8,378, Navajo County – 5,374, Apache County – 3,193, Mohave County – 3,186, Coconino County – 3,090, Santa Cruz County – 2,662, Yavapai County – 2,004, Cochise County – 1,603, Gila County – 912, Graham County – 545, La Paz County – 476, Greenlee County – 57 (county lists it at 58).