Graham County reports fourth COVID-19 death in three days

Graham County recorded its fourth death attributed to COVID-19 in the past three days and increased to 3,601 positive cases since the start of the pandemic. Greenlee County also reported its fourth overall death attributed to the virus.

Greenlee County reports fourth overall death from COVID-19

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – The Graham County Department of Health and Human Services has reported the fourth death of a county resident attributed to COVID-19 in the last three days, while the Greenlee County Health Department has confirmed its fourth overall death of Greenlee County residents attributed to the virus.

The age group and residency of the most recent Graham County death has yet to be released.

The death of a Thatcher resident in the 65 and older age group was attributed to COVID-19 on Wednesday and the deaths of a Safford resident in the 20-44 age group and a Pima resident in the 65 and older age group were attributed to COVID-19 on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the GCDHHS announced an additional 55 new cases of COVID-19 to put the county’s total to 3,601 since the start of the pandemic. Graham County has been administering the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to the 1A group and expects to advance to the 1B group – including teachers – in about a week.

To date, the ages of those who have been infected in Graham County include 604 under the age of 20, 1,638 between the ages of 20-44, 507 between the ages of 45-54, 402 between the ages of 55-64, 441 who are 65 or older, and nine unknown.

Safford’s increase in cases has been aided by positive tests at prison facilities. 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 Thursday. Additionally, the Federal Corrections Institute – Safford lists 297 currently active COVID-19 prisoners, with 324 recovered. FCI -Safford also lists 21 staff members as actively positive and three recovered, as of Thursday.

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.

Graham County’s rate of cases dropped to half of what it was the previous data week of Dec. 13, 2020, from 842 per 100,000 to 418 per 100,000 for the data week of Dec. 20, 2020. Graham County currently practically mirrors Maricopa County in terms of total cases relative to the population. Graham County has about .9 of a percent the population as Maricopa County and has about 1 percent the number of positive tests as Maricopa County. That leaves just a .1 of a percent difference.

The testing percent positivity for Graham County also shrank from 37.2 percent of those tested to 23.4 percent, the lowest since except for the Dec. 6 data week in which it was 21.5 percent.

Greenlee County continues increase of cases

Greenlee County added nine new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday to increase its total to 450 and an additional death was attributed as well. The new death was of a Greenlee County resident in the 65 and older age group who had been hospitalized in the Phoenix area.

Greenlee County has had two COVID-19 deaths from the Duncan area and two from the Clifton area. The recent COVID-19 death was in a resident from the Clifton area.

As of Wednesday, the Greenlee County Health Department has administered 3,941 tests, with 450 positive results and three deaths.

The county currently lists 159 active cases, with 288 recovered cases, and four 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 Thursday, the ADHS listed 9,913 new cases to bring its total for the pandemic to 584,593 in Arizona. The department also listed a daily record of 297 new deaths on Thursday, to bring the total for Arizona to 9,741 dead attributed to COVID-19. However, the bulk of the new deaths were listed after a review of older death certificates.

The breakdown of total cases by county includes Maricopa with 360,707, Pima – 77,854, Pinal – 31,497, Yuma – 29,715, Mohave – 14,347, Yavapai – 12,668, Coconino – 12,095, Navajo – 12,086, Cochise – 8,502, Apache – 8,045, Santa Cruz – 6,441, Gila – 4,867, Graham – 3,601, La Paz – 1,719, and Greenlee – 441 (county lists it at 450).