Graham County records the lowest COVID-19 test positivity rate in the state

Test positivity rate dips below 1 percent for the week of February 21, with only 203 currently active cases

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – The Graham County Department of Health and Human Services and Arizona Department of Health Services announced Thursday that Graham County’s COVID-19 test positivity had plummeted to just .7 of a percent for the week of Feb. 21. That was good for the lowest test positivity rate in the state during that time period, and currently, the county only lists 203 active cases out of its roughly 38,000 residents, which equates to roughly only half of 1 percent of Graham County’s population is currently listed as actively having COVID-19.  

Less than 1 percent of all Graham County residents who took a COVID-19 test the week of Feb. 21 tested positive for the virus. The week prior the rate was at 13.3 percent and Graham County had a previous high of a 38.9 percent positivity rate for the week of Dec. 13, 2020. 

Additionally, only 3 percent of all hospital visits during the week of Feb. 21 were for COVID-like illnesses for the entire Southeastern Region, which includes Graham, Greenlee, Cochise, Santa Cruz, and Pima counties. Those two areas put Graham County firmly in the minimal transmission zone. 

The third category – cases per 100,000 – was still in the “moderate transmission” zone with 39 per 100,000 during the week of Feb. 21, however, cases have significantly dropped since then and the county is almost assuredly in the minimal zone for that category currently as well, even though ADHS data won’t reflect that for another couple of weeks. Additionally, it takes two weeks in the different transmission zones before the health department changes the status, therefore Graham County is technically still listed as being in “substantial transmission” when in actuality it is almost certainly not. 

Health experts advise that mitigation protocols including physical distancing, wearing face coverings when necessary, washing one’s hands, and getting vaccinated are helping reduce new cases and lessen hospital visits.

Graham County is currently vaccinating every resident who is 55 years or older. Click here to find out how to register.  

Still, the disease can be fatal to some compromised patients who contract it, including two from Safford whose deaths this week were listed by the GCDHHS as being contributed to COVID-19. A common possible contributing factor to those whose deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 throughout the United States has been obesity, which leads to various other health issues. The ADHS lists a report by Trust for America’s Health done in 2019 that showed 29.5 percent of Arizona adults were obese.   

As of Thursday, Graham County has had 5,326 total confirmed cases for the totality of the pandemic, with 5,056 recovered cases, 203 active cases, and 77 deaths. 

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