Third Safford resident’s death attributed to COVID-19 in less than a week

Graham County sees 101 new cases over the weekend

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – The Graham County Department of Health and Human Services announced yet another new Safford death attributed to COVID-19 on Sunday, putting the number of deaths to 41 for the pandemic and six for the county in the last week.

The deceased was a Safford resident over the age of 65. No further information about the resident or the death was released. It was the third Safford resident whose death was attributed to COVID-19 in less than a week.     

The department also reported 101 new positive tests over the weekend and an additional 45 on Monday to push the county’s total for the pandemic to 2,655. Out of the new cases, 92 came from Safford, 25 from Thatcher, 13 from Pima, and 16 from the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

On Thursday, it was reported that Arizona has the biggest current outbreak of new COVID-19 cases. Out of Arizona’s 15 counties, Graham County currently has the highest positive test percentage at 27.3 percent. The county is still in the “Moderate” spread for business despite being in the “Severe” category for both cases per 100,000 and percent positivity for the past two months because the hospitalizations just barely went over the 10 percent threshold for its region for the first time during the week of Nov. 22. The hospitalizations will have to remain above 10 percent for a second consecutive week to change the county’s status to “Severe”, however, the ADHS’ data is two weeks behind and numbers are likely that will indeed be recorded in the next data release on Thursday.   

After having its biggest increase of cases in one month in October (408), Graham County easily surpassed that mark with 968 new positive tests in November and December is on pace to build on that number as well.

As of Monday, Graham County had 2,655 total confirmed cases. As of Monday, the GCDHHS has reported 1,582 recovered, 1,032 actives, and 41 deaths. 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 6.8 percent of Graham County has tested positive for COVID-19, with the currently active number at 2.6 percent.

A total of 41 people, nearly all over the age of 65 and who had pre-existing health conditions, have died with COVID-19 in Graham County. About 1.5 percent of those who have tested positive for the virus in Graham County have died after contracting it. However, that number jumps to about 10 percent for elderly patients. As of Monday, there were 15 COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center.

According to the state’s database, Graham County’s positive test cases include 537 who are under 20 years of age, 1,144 between 20-44, 330 between 45-54, 286 between 55-64, 353 who are 65 years old or older, and five unknown.

The ever-increasing positive tests have moved the Graham County Board of Supervisors to issue a mask mandate while in public for Graham County. The regulation includes all parts of incorporated (towns and cities) and unincorporated Graham County.

The first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine were distributed Monday morning, with a New York City nurse being one of the first to receive the shot. While the White House is also one of the first places to be offered the vaccine, President Donald J. Trump Tweeted that those working in the White House should be immunized later in the program “unless specifically necessary.” He added that while he was not currently scheduled to take the shot, he would be inoculated at some point. President Trump previously contracted the virus in October and, after a brief hospital visit, recovered.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: A young girl secures her mask with loops over her ears. The Greenlee County BOS extended its mask mandate at a special meeting Friday.

Greenlee County

The Greenlee County Health Department listed reported 15 new positive tests for COVID-19 for Friday through Sunday, putting its total for the pandemic to 336. 

As of Sunday, the health department has tested 3,194 people, with 2,858 negative results, and 336 positives. The county currently lists 175 active cases, with 158 recovered and three deaths. Greenlee County has about 10,000 residents.

The breakdown of the Greenlee cases currently listed on the ADHS’ data dashboard (which only shows 331 positives currently) includes 53 under the age of 20, 161 between 20-44, 48 between 45-54, 41 between 55-64, and 28 who are 65 years old or older.

The Greenlee County Board of Supervisors voted in a special meeting Friday, Dec. 11 to extend its mask mandate to Jan. 23, 2021, with the issue being up for discussion at the board’s Jan. 19, 2021 meeting.  

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 Sunday, the San Carlos Apache Tribe Department of Health & Human Services reported 35 new cases. To date, the Tribe has administered 16,181 tests with 12,914 negatives, 3,179 positives, and 88 results pending.

The Tribe lists 197 currently active cases, with 2,944 recovered cases, and 38 deaths, an increase of four deaths since Friday.  

The area breakdown on the reservation includes Gilson Wash – 533 positive, 492 recovered, 26 active, 15 deaths; Peridot – 1,078 positive, 992 recovered, 71 active, 15 deaths; 7-Mile – 664 positive, 609 recovered, 49 active, six deaths; Bylas – 697 positive, 669 recovered, 27 active, one death; other areas – 207 positive, 182 recovered, 24 active, one death.   


For the state, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 11,795 new cases Monday to bring the total to 420,248 for the state. It reported one new death to increase the total fatalities due, at least in part, to COVID-19 to and amended 7,358 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 260,661, Pima County – 53,448, Yuma County – 23,513, Pinal County – 22,088, Navajo County – 9,788, Coconino County – 9,284, Mohave County – 8,681, Yavapai County – 8,171, Apache County – 6,550, Cochise County – 5,279, Santa Cruz County – 4,972, Gila County – 3,725, Graham County – 2,655, La Paz County – 1,091, Greenlee County – 321 (county lists 336).