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The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center has dropped for the second consecutive week.

According to Shaylee Richards, a hospital spokeswoman, the daily average of hospitalized virus patients over the last 14-days has been 11. Last week it was 13 and the week before that 14.

Since the beginning of the month, the percentage of hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are unvaccinated against the virus is 93.2%, Richards said.

Over the last two weeks, 26.99% of all COVID-19 tests have come back positive, Richards said. Last week the two-week average was 29.43% and the week before that the two-week average was 35.41%.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 145 Graham County residents were diagnosed with the virus Sept. 17-Sept. 23 and two people with the virus died during the same time frame, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 99.

From Sept. 17 to Sept. 22, 51 Greenlee County residents have contracted COVID-19.

One hundred and ninety residents were battling the virus as of Wednesday night. Fifteen residents have died as a result of COVID-19 since March 2020.

Dr. Fred Fox, Greenlee County Health Department’s medical director, said Greenlee County was seeing one case a day in July and four per day in August. That average is eight per day so far this month.

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“The high transmissibility of the Delta variant increases the chance of catching the virus, with unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals making up a significant majority of the new cases while also suffering more severe illness, hospitalization, and deaths,” Fox said. “Persons fully vaccinated generally are protected from becoming more seriously ill.”

This week the CDC is expected to issue specific recommendations on administering Pfizer boosters to adults 65 and older, and individuals at higher occupational or health risk. An emergency use authorization for both Pfizer and Moderna already has been issued for certain high risk adults to receive a third dose in the series, Fox said.

The FDA is also evaluating Moderna’s request for boosters as well as authorization for children, he said.

“The situation around expanding vaccinations to younger age groups and additional doses is rapidly evolving and residents should be alert for further announcements,” Fox said.

Rapid testing for COVID is available at GHR and Canyonlands and the Duncan office of the health department is now offering rapid testing from 7-9 a.m. Monday through Thursday through October 14, Fox said.

“The test is collected in the individual’s vehicle and processed while the individual waits in their auto with results to be ready in 15 — 30 minutes,” Fox said.

“I encourage all residents to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible and to wear masks when in public areas, especially when in smaller, poorly ventilated spaces. Doing so not only protects you, but also those you love who are at increased risk of serious illness and even death,” Fox said.

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