Graham County records two new COVID-19 deaths

State lists record 253 new deaths but most due to reclassification

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – The Graham County Department of Health and Human Services listed two new deaths attributed to COVID-19 on Tuesday; one victim in the 20-44 age group and the other in the 65 and older age group.

The younger death was attributed to a resident from Safford and the older victim was a resident of Pima, according to the GCDHHS. The new deaths increase the county’s total to 53 for the course of the pandemic.

The state of Arizona also set a record for new deaths due to COVID-19 listed in one day with 253, however, 213 of them were newly attributed to COVID-19 after a periodic review of death certificates.

COVID-19 is on the rise in Graham County, however, a quantity of new positive tests for the Safford zip code include prisoners from both the federal and state prisons.

According to the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry COVID-19 data dashboard, the Arizona State Prison Complex – Safford has 288 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 22 inmates recovered as of Tuesday. Additionally, the Federal Corrections Institute – Safford lists 300 currently active COVID-19 prisoners, with 308 recovered. FCI -Safford also lists 18 staff members as actively positive and two recovered, as of Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the GCDHHS announced that 2,296 cases of COVID-19 out of a total of 3,496 cases are now listed as recovered. That leaves a current number of 1,147 active cases for Graham County, and 53 deaths. 

According to the GCDHHS, the county saw an increase of 24 new positive tests on Tuesday to increase the total for the pandemic to 3,496.

Out of the new cases reported Tuesday, 18 came from Safford, three from Thatcher, two from Pima, and one from the San Carlos Apache Tribe. The increased numbers for the Safford zip code have been aided by an outbreak at FCI-Safford and Arizona State Prison Complex-Safford.  

To date, the ages of those who have been infected in Graham County include 596 under the age of 20, 1,576 between the ages of 20-44, 492 between the ages of 45-54, 390 between the ages of 55-64, 433 who are 65 or older, and nine unknown.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services’ metrics, both Graham County and the entire state of Arizona is in the “substantial transmission” spread for the virus on both the business and school dashboards. Despite that, Governor Doug Ducey has replied that tactics have changed and believes most of the spread has come from other areas than from businesses, so he has declined to shutter businesses due to the metrics. Additionally, schools are recommended to go to distance-only learning, but that is at their own discretion.

Greenlee County continues increase of cases

Greenlee County added seven new COVID-19 cases on Monday to increase its total to 431, however, it still has the least out of any county in Arizona and has the least amount of spread per capita as well. 

As of Monday, the Greenlee County Health Department has administered 3,835 tests, with 3,404 negative results, and 431 positives.

The county currently lists 140 active cases, with 288 recovered cases, and three deaths.

For the week of Dec. 13, Greenlee County statistically had the lowest rate of spread with 183 cases per 100,000 people and was the only county in single digits for percent test positivity with a rate of 8.3 percent.  


On Tuesday, the ADHS listed 5,932 new cases to bring its total for the pandemic to 567,474 in Arizona. The department also listed 253 new deaths on Tuesday, to bring the total for Arizona to 9,317 dead attributed to COVID-19.

The breakdown of total cases by county includes Maricopa with 349,852, Pima – 75,584, Pinal – 30,272, Yuma – 29,165, Mohave – 13,938, Yavapai – 12,322, Navajo – 11,991, Coconino – 11,892, Cochise – 8,038, Apache – 7,801, Santa Cruz – 6,315, Gila – 4,716, Graham – 3,496, La Paz – 1,635, and Greenlee – 422 (county lists it at 431).

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