The Graham County Health Department is encouraging the pubic to wear masks at all times when in public.
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – The Graham County Department of Health and Human Services sent out a news release Thursday afternoon encouraging the use of masks at all times while in public due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
The Greenlee County Health Department previously advised March 31 for its residents to wear masks while outside and yesterday the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center made wearing masks a requirement by anyone visiting the hospital. The practice is common in Asian countries, not to protect the wearer from sickness but to keep whatever germs he/she has to themselves and not spread them to others.
The Graham County and Greenlee County health departments’ advisory is just an advisory and is not mandated. Additionally, the kind of masks they are urging people to wear are either homemade cloth masks or the like and ask the public to not attempt to purchase the high-quality medical masks – known as N95 respirator masks – as those are needed at hospitals to protect workers and first responders from viral infection.
Those who would like to volunteer to make masks can call the Graham County Health Department at (928) 428-0110. Masks are being made by volunteers for the public and guidelines for use and laundering will be included in any mask given.
While the cloth masks won’t keep a person from being infected, they are an effective means to lower the transmission of the virus, which is airborne and enters the human body often through the mouth and nose after a patient who has touched the virus touches their mouth or nose.
“The advantage to wearing a mask is that it is a barrier to touching hour mouth and nose,” the release stated. It is a visual reminder to social distance. The mask may also prevent the asymptomatic carrier from spreading the virus.”
The release also commended the public on its efforts to wash their hands, practice social distancing, staying home when possible, and frequently cleaning high-touch areas. It said those efforts have helped slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Gila Valley.
As of Thursday afternoon, Graham County has had 81 specimens sent for testing with only two positive cases, both of which have fully recovered. Greenlee County has had its lone case, but most of the rest of the state has seen cases in other counties rapidly grow.