Graham County passes 500 total COVID-19 positive tests

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: A young girl secures her mask with loops over her ears. If schools are allowed to open to in-school learning Aug. 17, with the increase of positive cases it is likely students and staff alike will have to wear masks most of the time they are at school.

Editor’s Note: On Sunday night, Graham County Health Department Director Brian Douglas advised that 14 positive tests he believed should be attributed to Graham County will stay with Gila County instead, and that Graham County’s number is now at 490. The tests were from San Carlos Apache Tribe members living on the reservation, which spans into both Graham and Gila counties.

Eleven new positive tests put county at 503

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – On Friday, Graham County had the dubious achievement of surpassing La Paz County for the total number of positive COVID-19 tests. Now, as of Saturday, it reached another dubious milestone and has surpassed the half-century mark.    

The county added 11 new cases Saturday to now total 503, according to the Graham County Department of Health and Human Services (GCDHHS). Graham County added nearly 400 cases in July alone to overtake La Paz County, which has 473 positive tests, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). According to the ADHS numbers, Graham County has only 489 cases, but Graham County Health Department Director Brian Douglas advised that the state had taken 14 cases from the San Carlos Apache Tribe from Graham County several days ago and that the cases will show back up for Graham County on the state’s data dashboard by Tuesday with the correct number at 503. Greenlee County continues to have the least number of positive test cases out of any county in the state and has held steady at just 55 for the past few days.

Greenlee County, like most of Arizona’s counties, has a mask mandate for people in public when they cannot physically distance from others. While Graham County does not have any such mandate, the majority of retailers now require the use of masks while in their stores and government leaders have asked community members to adhere to individual store policies. Douglas previously stated that if positive tests continue to rise, the health department could recommend Graham County’s local government issue a mask mandate similar to the one in Greenlee County.

According to the state’s database, Graham County’s positive test cases include 80 who are under 20 years of age, 203 between 20-44, 60 between 45-54, 51 between 55-64, and 93 who are 65 years old or older.

To date, the county has administered tests to 2,827 people with a total of 503 positives. The county lists 374 currently active cases, with 120 recovered cases, and nine 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.

Greenlee County

The Greenlee County Health Department has administered tests to 912 people, with 763 being negative, 55 positives, and 94 results pending, according to its update Saturday. The county lists 31 active cases, 22 recovered cases, and two deaths. Greenlee County has about 10,000 residents.

The breakdown of the Greenlee cases includes two under the age of 20, 33 between 20-44, nine between 45-54, seven between 55-64, and four who are 65 years old or older.

San Carlos Apache Tribe

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 4,318 people with 3,528 negative, 484 positives, and 306 results pending.

The Tribe lists 154 currently active cases, with 327 recovered cases, and three deaths.

The area breakdown on the reservation includes Gilson Wash – 75 positive, 46 recovered, 28 active, one death; Peridot – 181 positive, 117 recovered, 62 active, two deaths; 7-Mile – 79  positive, 65 recovered, 14 active; Bylas – 111 positive, 73 recovered, 38 active; other areas – 38 positive, 26 recovered, 12 active.   


For the state, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 1,465 new cases Sunday to bring the total to 178,467 for the state. It added 18 new deaths Sunday to bring the total fatalities due to COVID-19 to 3,765 in Arizona. The state has about 7.3 million residents.

The deaths by age group for the entire state include 2,712 who were 65 years old or older, 563 who were between 55-64, 260 who were between 45-54, 218 who were between 20-44, and 12 who were less than 20 years old. The state currently lists that 85 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 120,279, Pima County – 16,655, Yuma County – 11,142, Pinal County – 8,227, Navajo County – 5,271, Apache County – 3,064, Coconino County – 2,990, Mohave County – 3,027, Santa Cruz County – 2,608, Yavapai County – 1,818, Cochise County – 1,536, Gila County – 833, Graham County – 489 (actual number is 503), La Paz County – 473, Greenlee County – 55.