Graham County still in moderate transmission status for business reopening . . . for now

County lists 907 cases with 724 recoveries

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – Graham County is still in the moderate transmission status for business reopening despite its cases per 100,000 individuals being raised past the 100 person threshold to 114 during the week of Sept. 20. The Arizona Department of Health Services’ metrics are two weeks behind actual numbers, and when the new metrics come out next week Graham County is in danger of failing that one metric, putting it back into the “substantial transmission” category for having two consecutive weeks of more than 100 cases per 100,000 individuals. The percent positivity also raised from 4.9 percent the week of Sept. 13 to 6.3 percent for the week of Sept. 20, and the current positivity rate is 9.4 percent, however, all still are under the 10 percent threshold that would trigger the increase to substantial transmission for that category.   

On Thursday, the Graham County Department of Health and Human Services reported six new positive results for COVID-19, with four from Safford and two from Thatcher. This marks the third day in a row that none of the new cases came from the Graham County part of the San Carlos Apache Reservation.

The new results lifted Graham County’s total to 907 for the course of the pandemic.

Lowering the number of cases is required for shuttered businesses to reopen from Governor Doug Ducey’s executive order mandate. As of the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) most recent metrics, Graham County has a current total positivity rate of 9.4 percent.

The latest release from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) shows Graham County has met two out of three benchmarks for school reopening – which is only a recommendation. The business reopening metrics, which are required, are currently in the yellow or “moderate” level, which allows for the reopening of most previously shuttered businesses. However, those metrics could possibly change for the worse in the coming weeks. 

As of Thursday, the Graham County Department of Health and Human Services reports 907 total confirmed cases, with 724 recovered and 157 actives. 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.

A total of 26 people, mostly all over the age of 65 and who had pre-existing health conditions, have died with COVID-19 in Graham County. 

According to the state’s database, Graham County’s positive test cases include 185 who are under 20 years of age, 383 between 20-44, 103 between 45-54, 92 between 55-64, and 143 who are 65 years old or older.

Greenlee County

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Volunteers hand out masks at an event in Morenci. Greenlee County’s mask mandate will be reviewed by the Greenlee County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 20. If not renewed, it will expire Oct. 22.

As of Wednesday, the Greenlee County Health Department has administered tests to 1,325 people, with 1,226 being negative, 60 positives, and 39 results pending. The county has two active cases, 56 recovered cases, and two deaths. Greenlee County has about 10,000 residents.

The breakdown of the Greenlee cases includes three under the age of 20, 35 between 20-44, 11 between 45-54, seven between 55-64, and four who are 65 years old or older. Greenlee County currently has a total positivity rate of 3.8 percent, according to the ADHS, and is in the green, minimal transmission status for both school and business reopenings.

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 Wednesday, the San Carlos Apache Tribe Department of Health & Human Services reported four new cases. To date, the Tribe has administered tests to 8,312 people with 7,035 negatives, 1,152 positives, and 125 results pending.

The Tribe lists 102 currently active cases, with 1,037 recovered cases, and 13 deaths.

The area breakdown on the reservation includes Gilson Wash – 173 positive, 152 recovered, 17 active, four deaths; Peridot – 364 positive, 326 recovered, 31 active, seven deaths; 7-Mile – 243 positive, 209 recovered, 32 active, two deaths; Bylas – 295 positive, 278 recovered, 17 active; other areas – 77 positive, 72 recovered, five active.   


For the state, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 863 new cases Thursday to bring the total to 223,401 for the state. It reported 10 new deaths to bring the total fatalities due, at least in part, to COVID-19 to and amended 5,743 in Arizona. The state has about 7.3 million residents.  

Reported positive cases in the various counties include Maricopa County with 144,867, Pima County – 26,217, Yuma County – 12,894, Pinal County – 10,919, Navajo County – 5,871, Coconino County – 4,385, Mohave County – 4,079, Apache County – 3,654, Santa Cruz County – 2,895, Yavapai County – 2,672, Cochise County – 1,937, Gila County – 1,487, Graham County – 907, La Paz County – 557, Greenlee County – 60.