7 deaths, 221 new cases of COVID start December

SAFFORD — The growth in COVID-19 cases in the Gila Valley appears to be mirroring the increase in public and family gatherings for the holiday season.

On Dec. 1, Graham County Health Department reported 221 new cases over the previous nine days. That brings the total number of Graham County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic to 8,555, 22.03 percent of the county’s total population.

There were also seven more coronavirus-related deaths over that nine-day stretch, bringing the total dead from COVID-19 in Graham County to 133.

Over the last 14 days, Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center is averaging 26 patients hospitalized, with 19 of those hospitalized due to COVID-19.

The hospital also reports it has averaged 63 patients in the emergency room over the past 14 days, with 44 percent of them coming in due to COVID-19.

Graham County Health Department is providing free vaccines and boosters to anyone 5-years-old and older. To schedule an appointment for the free vaccine or booster, go to Activities • Graham County, AZ • CivicEngage.

Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center, in partnership with the United Way of Greenlee Counties, is offering free drive-up COVID-19 testing at the hospital’s Copper Mountain Clinic.

Free drive-up testing takes place Monday through Friday, from 1-7 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.