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The number of people in Graham County who have tested positive for COVID-19 remains at one, but health officials’ message remains the same: if people don’t follow their recommendations, hospitals are going to become overwhelmed with patients.

“I hope people aren’t misled by the fact that 80 percent of the people who get the virus end up fine,” Brian Douglas, Graham County Health Department director said Wednesday. “If you run the numbers, they are numbers that our local hospitals can’t care for.”

Here are those numbers:

There are roughly 50,000 people in Graham and Greenlee counties.

Thirty percent of people get novel viruses within a year period.

Twenty percent of those people will end up in the hospital.

Five percent of those in the hospital end up in ICU.

“Those are the numbers if people take no precautionary measures,” Douglas said. “It would overwhelm our healthcare infrastructure. But, with fingers crossed, social distancing, cancellations and warmer temperatures, hopefully we can slow the virus down and the results won’t be as dire as predicted.”

Douglas said he can’t understand why some people are still insisting the coronavirus is nothing to be concerned about. Unlike the flu, the coronavirus can remain airborne for up to three hours and can live on surfaces for several days.

He doesn’t have statistics for private labs, but Douglas said Graham County has sent nine tests to the state lab so far. One has come back positive, two were negative and six are pending.

Four of those pending results belong to Pima Elementary School children who were possibly exposed to the virus by the one Graham County resident who has tested positive.

Three of the students were tested at a clinic set up at Pima Junior High on Monday; a fourth student was tested Tuesday, Douglas said.

Although the clinic was set up specifically for the exposed fifth and sixth graders, several community members showed up, Douglas said. None were tested because they were asymptomatic, but they were provided information about self-care.

“We gave them instructions and reassurance and we sent them home,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, Douglas released recommendations to restaurants and bars to help them slow the spread of the virus.

The health department continues to look for guidance from the CDC and the Arizona Department of Health Services, he said.

Should the new recommendations prove less-than-successful, there is a chance restaurants and bars could close, but he hopes it doesn’t come to that, Douglas said.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, as of Thursday morning, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona is up to 44 from 27. The number of positive cases in Graham County remains at one. Greenlee and Cochise have zero cases, thus far.

Of the 44, 26 of the tests were performed at the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory. The rest were done at private labs.

There have been 331 people tested by the state, 175 people tested negative. Another 130 tests are pending, including those of Pima Elementary School children who were exposed to the virus last week by a staff member.

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