Thatcher victim is third county death attributed to COVID-19 this week

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – The Graham County Department of Health and Human Services listed one new death attributed to COVID-19 on Wednesday; the third death in the last two days. 

The death was attributed to a resident from Thatcher and is in the 65 and older age group, according to the GCDHHS. The new death increases the county’s total to 54 for the course of the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Graham County, however, a quantity of new positive tests for the Safford zip code include prisoners from both the federal and state prisons.

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 Wednesday. Additionally, the Federal Corrections Institute – Safford lists 292 currently active COVID-19 prisoners, with 315 recovered. FCI -Safford also lists 19 staff members as actively positive and three recovered, as of Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the GCDHHS announced that 2,325 cases of COVID-19 out of a total of 3,548 cases are now listed as recovered. That leaves a current number of 1,169 active cases for Graham County, and 54 deaths. 

According to the GCDHHS, the county saw an increase of 52 new positive tests on Wednesday to increase the total for the pandemic to 3,548.

Out of the new cases reported Tuesday, 45 came from Safford, three from Thatcher, six from the San Carlos Apache Tribe, and one from Pima. The increased numbers for the Safford zip code have been aided by an outbreak at FCI-Safford and Arizona State Prison Complex-Safford.  

To date, the ages of those who have been infected in Graham County include 597 under the age of 20, 1,608 between the ages of 20-44, 501 between the ages of 45-54, 397 between the ages of 55-64, 436 who are 65 or older, and nine unknown.

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.

Greenlee County continues increase of cases

Greenlee County added 10 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday to increase its total to 441, however, it still has the least out of any county in Arizona and has the least amount of spread per capita as well. 

As of Tuesday, the Greenlee County Health Department has administered 3,893 tests, with 3,452 negative results, and 441 positives.

The county currently lists 150 active cases, with 288 recovered cases, and three 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 Wednesday, the ADHS listed 7,206 new cases to bring its total for the pandemic to 574,680 in Arizona. The department also listed 127 new deaths on Wednesday, to bring the total for Arizona to 9,444 dead attributed to COVID-19.

The breakdown of total cases by county includes Maricopa with 354,810, Pima – 76,243, Pinal – 30,729, Yuma – 29,394, Mohave – 14,109, Yavapai – 12,491, Navajo – 12,011, Coconino – 11,981, Cochise – 8,148, Apache – 7,942, Santa Cruz – 6,367, Gila – 4,789, Graham – 3,548, La Paz – 1,686, and Greenlee – 428 (county lists it at 441).

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