Graham County’s COVID cases continue historic rise; adds another death

Contributed Photo/Courtesy U.S. Census Bureau

By Jon Johnson

GRAHAM COUNTY – New cases of COVID-19 continue to surge in Graham and Greenlee counties, with Graham now having an active caseload of 2,153. The county also announced an additional death to bring the total for the pandemic to 164. 

The Graham County Department of Health and Human Services listed 282 confirmed new cases in the last four days to increase the currently active caseload to 2,153 – a new record high. Graham County has seen a total of 11,112 confirmed cases, with 8,795 recoveries, and 164 deaths for the course of the pandemic.  

The silver lining is that the majority of the new cases appear to be from the more-highly transmissible but less severe Omicron variant, which appears to attack mostly the upper respiratory system. Symptoms of the Omicron variant include fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, running nose, headache, and – for a smaller number of people – difficulty breathing and taste and smell disorders.

The Mount Graham Regional Medical Center previously issued a request to the community to help lower transmission rates in the face of the more contagious Omicron variant.

The hospital is requesting community members practice recommended precautions in public and take COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots along with a seasonal flu shot. “These will help you avoid serious illnesses,” the statement read.

For the week ending Jan. 11, the hospital averaged four COVID-19 patients each day for the previous two weeks, according to its own data. The percent of patients hospitalized during that same time period who have not taken any COVID-19 vaccines was 89.5%.  

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) put out data regarding rates of COVID-19 by vaccination statusClick here to go through the data, which states that in November unvaccinated people had nearly a 5 times greater chance of contracting COVID-19 and 31 times greater risk of dying from it. 

The Graham County Department of Health and Human Services offers free vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson and has booster shots for those 18 and over. Additionally, children 5 and up can receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and adults can have any of the three. The health department provides the vaccine Mondays from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., Thursdays from 2 – 5 p.m., and the Pfizer vaccine for those 5 and older on Thursdays from 5 – 7:30 p.m. and Fridays from 2 – 5 p.m. Click here to register to receive a vaccine. Vaccines are also available at local pharmacies such as Palo Verde Pharmacy in Pima, and, in Greenlee County, at Gila Health Resources.

Greenlee County

The most recent release from the Greenlee County Health Department came on Jan. 29, and listed the county had four new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, which put its total for the pandemic to 2,166. 

As of Saturday, Greenlee County had roughly 270 active cases while it registered 1,866 recoveries and 30 deaths for the course of the pandemic.

With the new cases, Greenlee County has moved to the second-lowest rate of cases by county in the state with 19,932 per 100,000 population. Greenlee is now behind Yavapai County with 19,318 cases per 100,000 population for the lowest transmission rate in the state. Cochise County is right behind Greenlee with 21,512 cases per 100,000 population. The state’s average is 26,020 cases per 100,000 population, and Graham County is at 28,880 cases per 100,000 population, which is the second-highest rate behind Navajo County which is at 31,314 cases per 100,000 population.

MGRMC is a Level IV Trauma Center that works with local air transportation agencies when necessary to transfer patients to a higher-level trauma center.