By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – Like a broken record, day after day new positive COVID-19 test results come in from Graham County.
On Wednesday, the Graham County Department of Health and Human Services reported three new cases – one in Thatcher and two in unincorporated Graham County south of Safford. All of the new cases are related to previous clusters.
“Since Arizona lifted its stay-at-home order on May 15, COVID-19 cases have increased considerably, reaching record highs,” said Graham County Health Director Brian Douglas. “Graham County is also experiencing a rise in cases. We have had 21 additional cases in the past two weeks. We are asking our residents to take extra precautions, social distance, wear face masks when in public, and stay at home as much as possible.”
According to state data, Arizona hospitals are at 83 percent capacity as of Wednesday, over the 80 percent threshold which is supposed to call for a stop to elective surgeries.
As per usual, all of the known close contacts of the new cases as well as the patients have been placed on quarantine until cleared by the health department.
Out of Graham County’s 48 total cases, 10 are under the age of 20, five are 21-34 years old, 20 are 35-60 years old, and 13 are 65 years old or older. A recent cluster of elderly patients with underlying health conditions saw two COVID-19 related deaths in Graham County and one in Greenlee County.
As of Wednesday, Graham County has tested 670 patients with 15 tests pending lab results.
Canyonlands Healthcare, in conjunction with the Graham County Department of Health Services and Greenlee County Health Department, will hold a drive-through COVID-19 testing blitz Saturday, June 13, from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
The blitz will take place at its Safford location at 2016 W. 16th St. No appointment is required.
Those interested in taking a test should drive to the location and stay in their vehicle. Paperwork will be brought to the vehicle and after it is filled out those being tested will be given a nasal swab.
The test will take several days before results are available either. For more information, call Canyonlands Healthcare at 428-1500 or the Graham County Department of Health Services at 428-0110.
General things that everyone should do to prevent the spread of all respiratory illnesses include:
● Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
● Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
● Stay home when you are sick.
● Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
● Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular EPA registered household cleaning spray or wipes.
● Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
● Wear a facemask when in public.
● When shopping, limit the number of people who you take with you. If possible, pick one person from your household to do the shopping.
● Find up to date information at azhealth.gov/COVID-19 and at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.