Graham County has lost another resident with COVID-19, bringing to 33 the number of residents with the virus to die since March. The patient was a Safford resident over the age of 65, according to the health department.
The Graham and Greenlee county health departments have also announced another increase in cases, 25 and 10, respectively.
Of Graham County's 25 new patients, 12 live in Safford and six are members of the San Carlos Apache tribe. Four live in Thatcher and three live in Pima. Thirteen of the 25 are 20-44 years of age, four are seniors over 65, four are children and three are 55-64. One is 45-54.
The number of active cases in Graham County is now 718. Just under 1,000 patients have recovered.
Greenlee County now has 55 people residents fighting COVID-19. Ninety-one have recovered and two have died.
A total of 148 Greenlee County residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Two patients have died.
Graham County Health Department Director Brian Douglas said he will be meeting with Gila Valley mayors, town managers and city managers and county officials Thursday morning.
"We'll have a room full of different ideas and I look forward to coming up with a consensus and community-wide mitigation efforts," Douglas said.
As of now, the school districts that are currently open are remaining open and their athletic programs are moving forward although the county currently doesn't meet the state recommended guidelines for doing so, Douglas said.
Douglas said that while it's important to keep the schools open, most people are contracting the virus while at work, large family gatherings and through athletics.
Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center CEO Roland Knox said that as of Tuesday, eight people with COVID-19 were being treated at the hospital.
"I've been in contact with the hospital and they are continuing to hold strong at this time," Douglas said.
If at all possible, Douglas said he recommends people keep their Thanksgiving gatherings small.
Thanks to the vaccines that will soon be available, Douglas said there is a "light at the end of the tunnel."
"We have the staff, we have the supplies, we just need the vaccine," Douglas said.
He anticipants the county will receive a couple hundred doses at a time. They'll likely be distributed at small clinics as batches come in, but first responders, health care providers and vulnerable people will be given first priority.
The Arizona Department of Health Services announced another 3,206 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 statewide and an additional 53 people have died. Since the start of the pandemic, 283,102 people have caught the virus and 6,365 have died. Nearly 2.4 million have been tested for it.
As of Tuesday, 1,700 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized and 396 of them were in ICU and 218 were on ventilators.
More than 11 million Americans have caught the virus and 246,232 have died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
According to the Graham County Health Department, in an attempt to help meet the increased demand for COVID-19 testing, Canyonlands will be hosting a free testing blitz Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon.
Those interested in being tested are encouraged to drive to the east parking lot of their location and stay in their vehicle for the duration of the event. They have approximately 300 Nasopharyngeal tests on hand.