Yet another Safford COVID-19 death reported

Arizona has the worst spread of any state and Graham County has the highest positive tests out of any county in Arizona

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – The Graham County Department of Health and Human Services announced yet another new Safford death attributed to COVID-19 on Friday, putting the number of deaths to 40 for the pandemic and five 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.    

The department also reported 36 new positive tests on Friday to push the county’s total for the pandemic to 2,509.

Yesterday, 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 to be released 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 Friday, Graham County had 2,509 total confirmed cases, with 1,467 recovered, 1,002 actives, and 40 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 6.3 percent of Graham County has tested positive for COVID-19, with the currently active number at 2.6 percent.

A total of 40 people, nearly all over the age of 65 and who had pre-existing health conditions, have died with COVID-19 in Graham County. About 1.6 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.

Last week, Gov. Doug Ducey instituted three new executive orders, one restricting gatherings to fewer than 50 people, one that makes it easier for restaurants to get permits for outdoor dining, and another that requires health insurers to pay for a patient’s COVID-19 vaccination. A vaccine should be in Arizona in the next few weeks, with healthcare workers and the elderly being serviced first. He has declined to institute business closure measures associated with COVID-19 thresholds he previously instituted, however, and said most of the new cases are due to family gatherings and not associated with businesses such as bars and restaurants being open. 

According to the state’s database, Graham County’s positive test cases include 512 who are under 20 years of age, 1,085 between 20-44, 299 between 45-54, 268 between 55-64, 340 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.

Greenlee County

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: A young girl secures her mask with loops over her ears. The Greenlee County BOS voted Friday to extend its mask mandate into the new year.

The Greenlee County Health Department listed reported eight new positive tests for COVID-19 on Thursday, putting its total for the pandemic to 321. 

As of Thursday, the health department has tested 3,134 people, with 2,813 negative results, and 321 positives. The county currently lists 160 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 312 positives currently) includes 50 under the age of 20, 154 between 20-44, 42 between 45-54, 38 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 Friday, the San Carlos Apache Tribe Department of Health & Human Services reported 34 new cases. To date, the Tribe has administered 16,021 tests with 12,783 negatives, 3,122 positives, and 116 results pending.

The Tribe lists 192 currently active cases, with 2,896 recovered cases, and 34 deaths.

The area breakdown on the reservation includes Gilson Wash – 521 positive, 487 recovered, 21 active, 13 deaths; Peridot – 1,064 positive, 974 recovered, 76 active, 14 deaths; 7-Mile – 646 positive, 594 recovered, 46 active, six deaths; Bylas – 690 positive, 665 recovered, 24 active, one death; other areas – 201 positive, 176 recovered, 25 active.   


For the state, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 6,983 new cases Friday to bring the total to 394,512 for the state. It reported 91 new deaths to increase the total fatalities due, at least in part, to COVID-19 to and amended 7,245 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 245,671, Pima County – 49,637, Yuma County – 21,493, Pinal County – 20,500, Navajo County – 9,417, Coconino County – 8,841, Mohave County – 8,159, Yavapai County – 7,433, Apache County – 6,272, Cochise County – 4,925, Santa Cruz County – 4,758, Gila County – 3,532, Graham County – 2,509, La Paz County – 1,053, Greenlee County – 312 (county lists 321).

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