Graham County records 17th death from COVID-19

Death rate for known positive cases now at 3 percent in Graham County

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD –  The Graham County Department of Health and Human Services (GCDHHS)announced an additional death from COVID-19 on Monday night.

The victim was a Safford resident over the age of 65 The additional death makes 11 in roughly two weeks and brings the county’s total to 17.  

Along with the new death, the county announced seven new positive tests to bring the total to 556 cases, according to the GCDHHS. The Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center lists five current patients hospitalized for COVID-19.

With the additional positive test numbers and new death, the county’s death rate of those known to be infected raised to just over 3 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 3,086 people with 556 positives, 344 active cases, 195 recovered cases, and 17 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 94 who are under 20 years of age, 233 between 20-44, 61 between 45-54, 59 between 55-64, and 107 who are 65 years old or older.

Graham County has a positive PCR (nasal swab) test rate of 11.4 percent and a serology (antibody) test rate of 1.8 percent, giving it a total positive of 9.5 percent in total. 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 1,442.5 cases per 100,000 residents and currently fails at two of the three benchmarks.     

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci resident Jason Palmer tilts his head back to await the insertion of a nasopharyngeal swab. Greenlee County Health Department nurse Janice Lovett, one of six nurses on hand administered the Covid-19 virus test. A total of 98 tests were administered in Morenci on July 25 and results were available within a few days.

Greenlee County

The Greenlee County Health Department hasn’t had a new positive test announced since last Thursday to bring its current total to 58, however, the state lists the county at 57. As of Monday, the department has administered tests to 942 people, with 815 being negative, 58 positives, and 69 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 5.4 percent PCR and 1.7 percent antibody for a total rate of 5 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 include 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

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 Monday, 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 4,870 people with 4,221 negative, 581 positives, and 68 results pending.

The Tribe lists 113 currently active cases, with 464 recovered cases, and four deaths.

The area breakdown on the reservation includes Gilson Wash – 97 positive, 75 recovered, 21 active, one death; Peridot – 205 positive, 169 recovered, 33 active, three deaths; 7-Mile – 97  positive, 79 recovered, 18 active; Bylas – 140 positive, 106 recovered, 34 active; other areas – 42 positive, 35 recovered, seven active.   


For the state, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 1,213 new cases Tuesday to bring the total to 188,737 for the state. It added 45 new deaths Tuesday to bring the total fatalities due to COVID-19 to 4,199 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 3,012 who were 65 years old or older, 640 who were between 55-64, 289 who were between 45-54, 247 who were between 20-44, and 11 who were less than 20 years old. The state currently lists that 79 percent of the intensive care unit (ICU) beds across the state are in use and hospitalization cases have a downward trend.   

Reported positive cases in the various counties include Maricopa County with 126,791 Pima County – 18,381, Yuma County – 11,633, Pinal County – 8,509, Navajo County – 5,391, Mohave County – 3,226, Apache County – 3,197, Coconino County – 3,128, Santa Cruz County – 2,669, Yavapai County – 2,040, Cochise County – 1,730, Gila County – 950, Graham County – 555 (556 on county records), La Paz County – 479, Greenlee County – 57 (county lists it at 58).