Safford leads Graham County’s new COVID-19 cases

Total now at 1,562 with 910 recovered and 621 active cases

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – After having the dubious distinction of having the highest 7-day ELR positivity rate for COVID-19 (37.5 percent) out of any of Arizona’s 15 counties yesterday, the news was a bit rosier for Graham County as its new 7-day ELR reduced to 17.3 percent, putting it at second in the state after Yuma (18.8 percent).

Cases continue to grow, however, and the Graham County Department of Health and Human Services (GCDHHS) reported 29 new positive results for COVID-19 in Graham County Thursday to push the total for the pandemic to 1,562. The new positive tests reported Thursday included 16 from Safford, six from Thatcher, four from the San Carlos Apache Tribe, and three from Pima. Safford has nearly twice the population as Thatcher and four times that of Pima.  

After having its biggest increase of cases in one month in October, Graham County is on its way of eclipsing that mark with 328 new positive tests in the first 12 days of November alone.

As of Wednesday, the Graham County Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,562 total confirmed cases, with 910 recovered and 621 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. About 4 percent of Graham County has tested positive for COVID-19, with the currently active number at about 1.6 percent.

A total of 31 people, nearly all over the age of 65 and who had pre-existing health conditions, have died with COVID-19 in Graham County. About 2 percent of those who have tested positive for the virus in Graham County have died after contracting it. There were currently nine patients hospitalized for COVID-19 at the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center on Wednesday.

Due to the increase of cases, the Fort Thomas School District has gone back to distance learning for the month of November, and the Arizona Interscholastic Association has recommended both Graham and Greenlee postpone the start of school winter sports.

On Monday, Thatcher advised its boys basketball open gym may have been exposed to an active COVID-19 case and the health department is conducting contract tracing. However, Thatcher still has basketball activities set to resume Nov. 18.

Safford Athletic Director Toni Corona told the Gila Herald that they have postponed tryouts for winter sports and are in a wait-and-see mode.

Both Graham and Greenlee fail the Winter Sports Metrics of thresholds as defined by the Arizona Department of Health Services by having too many cases per 100,000 people and too high of a positive percentage rate of tests given.    

According to the state’s database, Graham County’s positive test cases include 345 who are under 20 years of age, 649 between 20-44, 175 between 45-54, 156 between 55-64, and 205 who are 65 years old or older.

As of Thursday, the ADHS continues to list Graham County in its “moderate” business reopening status, even though the county is in the “substantial transmission” zone in both cases per 100,000 individuals, and percent positivity since the week of Sept. 20. The county’s number per 100,000 population did drop from 340 the week of Oct. 18 to 309 the week of Oct. 25. However, ADHS metrics are roughly two weeks behind current results and next week’s result could likely be higher. The percent positivity was listed at 18.2 percent for the week of Oct. 11, 12.5 percent for the week of Oct. 18, and 16.4 percent for the week of Oct. 25, all over the 10 percent threshold to enter the substantial zone. Hospitalizations for the Southeast Region – which includes Graham, Greenlee, Pima, Cochise, and Santa Cruz counties – rose slightly 2.1 percent for the week of Oct. 18 to 2.9 percent for the week of Oct. 25, and is still in the “minimal transmission” zone under 5 percent.  

Greenlee County

The Greenlee County Health Department listed three new positive tests on Wednesday to raise its total for the pandemic to 128.

The health department has administered tests to 1,873 people as of Wednesday, with 1,745 being negative, and 128 positives, according to the department. The county has 35 active cases, 91 recovered cases, and two deaths. Greenlee County has about 10,000 residents.

The breakdown of the Greenlee cases currently listed on the ADHS’ data dashboard (which only shows 122 positives currently) includes 12 under the age of 20, 66 between 20-44, 23 between 45-54, 15 between 55-64, and six who are 65 years old or older.

Greenlee County’s percent positivity skyrocketed from 0 percent to 17.6 percent for the week of Oct. 4, and is now listed at 22.7 percent, putting that metric into the substantial zone.

Its cases per 100,000 individuals also raised from 10 for the week of Sept. 27 to 39 for the week of Oct. 4, 67 for the week of Oct. 11, 270 for the week of Oct. 18, and then back down to 29 for the week of Oct 25, putting it back into the moderate zone. However, Greenlee County is still in the “minimal transmission” status for business reopening, according to ADHS.  

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 Thursday, the San Carlos Apache Tribe Department of Health & Human Services reported 32 new cases. To date, the Tribe has administered 12,759 tests with 10,507 negatives, 2,108 positives, and 144 results pending.

The Tribe lists 242 currently active cases, with 1,841 recovered cases, and 25 deaths. That is an increase of five deaths since Friday.

The area breakdown on the reservation includes Gilson Wash – 351 positive, 301 recovered, 42 active, eight deaths; Peridot – 683 positive, 605 recovered, 67 active, 11 deaths; 7-Mile – 415 positive, 366 recovered, 44 active, five deaths; Bylas – 527 positive, 457 recovered, 69 active, one death; other areas – 132 positive, 112 recovered, 20 active.   


For the state, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 1,399 new cases Thursday to bring the total to 266,562 for the state. It reported 12 new deaths to bring the total fatalities due, at least in part, to COVID-19 to and amended 6,240 in Arizona. The state has about 7.3 million residents and nearly two million tests have been taken.  

Reported positive cases in the various counties include Maricopa County with 170,842, Pima County – 31,538, Yuma County – 14,935, Pinal County – 13,174, Navajo County – 6,988, Coconino County – 6,124, Mohave County – 4,893, Apache County – 4,270, Yavapai County – 3,409, Santa Cruz County – 3,208, Cochise County – 2,572, Gila County – 2,259, Graham County – 1,562, La Paz County – 666, Greenlee County – 122 (county reports 128).

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