Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci resident Daniel Luna allows Amanda Gray to show him how to put on a fabric mask. The Graham County Department of Health and Human Services is recommending the wearing of masks in public.
County has 16 current cases
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – More positive tests have continued to come up relating to the new cluster of COVID-19 cases in Graham County.
Out of the three new additional positive tests, one lives in Safford, one in Thatcher, and one in Pima. According to the Graham County Department of Health and Human Services, all known close contacts to the new positives have been placed on quarantine until cleared by the health department. All positive COVID-19 patients are recovering at home or have recovered with no local hospitalizations or deaths reported, according to the health department.
Out of the last 15 test results, there were 12 negative and three positive. There are currently about 20 test results that are pending. The ages of the positive cases in Graham County since the start of the pandemic include four under the age of 20, eight who are between 35 – 55 years old, and six who are 65 years old or older.
“In Graham County, we’ve seen enough COVID-19 activity through our contact tracing to determine our latest cluster could have entered our valley through several different sources,” said Graham County Health Director Brian Douglas. “Our community determines how COVID-19 is spread. Because of this, our health department recommends wearing facemasks when in public and complying (with) Governor (Doug) Ducey’s stay at home executive order. These are great tools that can minimize the spread of viral material.”
While the health department is recommending the wearing of masks, it is mandatory to do so in any county building that is still open to the public, such as the courthouse.
While the new cluster that began in late April was first initially thought to have been transferred by a visitor from New Mexico, Douglas now says the visitor may have in fact been infected by people in Graham County and it just so happened that the visitor was tested first. Douglas said that the current cluster may have actually been traced back to the first two initial cases in Graham County from the Pima School District and that asymptomatic carriers spread the virus through close contact with others. He did add that all of the cases are from close contact and that they are not calling it from community spread at this time.
“At the time of the Pima School outbreak, we were only testing symptomatic people and that was the criteria from the Arizona Department of Health Services at that time,” Douglas said. “It’s very possible that someone from Pima could have been asymptomatic but infected and this could have been brewing in the community for a month and we just didn’t capture it until recently.”
As of April 30, the Greenlee County Health Department was reporting just the two recovered cases. As of that date, there had been 94 tests completed in Greenlee County with 88 negative and two pending results.
General things that everyone should do to prevent the spread of all respiratory illnesses include:
● Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
● Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
● Stay home when you are sick.
● Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
● Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular EPA registered household cleaning spray or wipes.
● Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
● Wear a facemask when in public.
● When shopping, limit the number of people who you take with you. If possible, pick one person from your household to do the shopping.
● Find up to date information at azhealth.gov/COVID-19 and at