December sets new COVID-19 case record in Graham County

- David Bell Graph/Gila Valley Central

SAFFORD — The final month of 2020 proved to be the worst for the Gila Valley when it comes to coronavirus, and its most deadly.

December ended with 1,103 new cases of COVID-19, making up almost one-third of all the cases Graham County experienced since the start of the pandemic nine months prior.

There were also 16 coronavirus-related deaths in December, the most deaths of any month thus far.

Thanks to an outbreak at an area prison, the Safford area suffered the bulk of the new cases in December, recording 62 percent — 687 — of Graham County’s cases during the month. Thatcher saw 166 new cases, Pima 70, Fort Thomas 3 and the Graham County portion of the San Carlos Apache Reservation 86.

January is starting even worse when it comes to new cases, with 244 new cases over the first four days of the month. That’s more than double the number of new cases reported in the first four days of December, and three times as many during the first four days of November.

Graham County’s total is at 3,472 as of Jan. 4, with 1,151 cases considered active and 51 deaths.

Greenlee County

December saw 155 new cases in Greenlee County, 60 percent as many cases in a single month as the previous eight months combined.

Greenlee County Health Department reported nine new cases to start January, bringing the county’s total to 424 as of Jan. 3.

There are 153 cases currently considered active and there have been three deaths.