Three more San Carlos Apache Tribe members have contracted COVID-19, bringing to 58 the number of cases diagnosed in Graham County since the start of the pandemic.
Graham County Health Department Director Brian Douglas said 140 people are waiting for test results, most of whom participated in a free COVID-19 testing clinic on Saturday.
Nearly 250 people took part in the clinic, Douglas said. Half of them have received their test results and only one of them tested positive, he said.
On Wednesday, Gov. Doug Ducey agreed to give city, town and county officials the power to require people to wear face masks if they so choose. Statewide, several mayors and medical providers have been pleading with the governor to either mandate face masks or allow them to mandate face masks because of a spike in COVID-19 cases across the state.
“We are staying with our previous recommendation, which is that we strongly encourage people to wear masks in public when social distancing is not possible,” Douglas said Wednesday night.
The health director noted that several mayors along the border want a mandatory face mask rule because Mexico is seeing more cases and many believe their numbers are going up, too, as a result.
Santa Cruz County reported 1,210 cases Thursday and it has roughly the same number of people living in it as Graham County, Douglas said.
Cochise County jumped from 171 documented cases on June 11 to 267 on June 18.
Thatcher Mayor Bob Rivera said he suspects he and his counterparts in Graham County will be meeting with Douglas before making any decisions. They’ve been following his recommendations since the start of the pandemic, he said.
Personally, Rivera said he believes “if you get too close, within six feet, you should put it on.”
Safford Mayor Jason Kouts said the topic has been placed on city council’s agenda for Monday at 6 p.m.
For now, he said, “We are still adhering to the recommendations of the Graham County Health Department and encourage the public to listen in on the council meeting.”
Thursday morning, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 2,519 new cases and 32 news deaths. The total for the state was at 43,443 cases and 1,271 deaths.
On Wednesday, 1,667 people with COVID-19 were in the hospital, 540 of them were in ICU and 341 of them were on ventilators. Only 16 percent of ICU beds were available for use Wednesday and 60 percent of ventilators were available. Two months ago, 72 percent were available.
One hundred and forty-eight COVID-19 patients were released from hospitals statewide Wednesday.
The Centers for Disease Control reported nearly 28,000 new cases and over 700 new deaths Wednesday. The total number of cases nationwide is 2,132,321 and the number of deaths was 116,862.
Due to the increase in cases, Graham County Health Department strongly encourages residents to follow the below recommendations:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular EPA registered household cleaning spray or wipes.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Wear a facemask when in public.
• When shopping, limit the number of people who you take with you. If possible, pick one person from your household to do the shopping.
• Find up to date information at azhealth.gov/COVID-19 and at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html