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Graham County has lost three more residents and Greenlee County has lost another two residents to COVID-19 this week.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 129 Graham County residents and 20 Greenlee County residents have died of the virus since the pandemic started. Thirteen of Graham County’s victims have died this month alone. Four Greenlee County residents have died so far this month.

One of the most recent Greenlee County residents to die was in their 40s and lived in the Clifton area and the other was in their 80s from the Duncan area. The Graham County victims included two people 65 or older and one under 65.

Shaylee Richards, a spokeswoman for Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center, has said more than 90% of the hospital’s patients have not been fully vaccinated against the virus.

According to an Associated Press story, hospital executives and public health authorities across Arizona are pleading with people to get vaccinated and to skip family gatherings if they’re feeling ill.

The number of cases and hospital stays are on the increase and officials are once again afraid the state’s health care system will become overwhelmed when infections spread because of holiday gatherings.

Dr. Richard Carmona, a former U.S. surgeon general who is now Gov. Doug Ducey’s adviser on COVID-19, appealed to people to look beyond their sense of individualism and get vaccinated for the good of their family and community, according to the AP story.

The state’s vaccination rate was 61.6% as of Wednesday. In Graham County 52.7% of residents have received at least one vaccine shot and in Greenlee County, that number is 40.1%.

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