Graham County climbs to 55 COVID-19 cases

SAFFORD —Graham County experienced one its largest single-day growths in COVID-19 cases Monday when seven new positives were announced, bringing the county’s total to 55 reported cases.

Six of the cases are on the San Carlos Apache reservation, bringing the San Carlos Apache Tribe’s total to 51 positive cases —33 on the reservation and 18 off. A new case announced Tuesday is from a previously unidentified cluster.

In reaction to the increased number of cases on the reservation, the San Carlos Apache Tribal Council passed a resolution Tuesday further limiting tribal members’ exposure out of the home.

The resolutions prohibits off-reservation travel except for emergencies and medical care, employment and education; the curfew prohibits all travel on the reservation except for emergency for employment; all parks, recreational facilities, hunting fishing and timber harvesting is closed until further notice; non-resident visitors are prohibited from traveling onto the reservation except in specific circumstances, and those permitted are subject to health screening; San Carlos Police will increase the number of checkpoints on the reservation;  and a prohibition on wakes and funerals for groups more than 10.

The Apache Gold Resort and Casino remains closed to the public and continues to serve as housing for those ordered into quarantine, with San Carlos High School being named as a secondary quarantine location in the event the casino reaches capacity.

Also closed are public transportation and any liquor sales.

The other Graham County case is located in Thatcher.

The totals do not include results from Saturday’s testing blitz of about 250 people at Canyonlands Healthcare in Safford, as those results have not yet been received from the testing laboratory.

“Since Arizona lifted its stay-at-home order on May 15, COVID-19 cases have increased considerably, reaching record highs. Graham County is also experiencing a rise in cases,” Graham County Health Director Brian Douglas in announcing the new cases. “We are asking our residents to take extra precautions, social distance, wear face masks when in public and stay home as much as possible.”

Greenlee County remains at 12 positive cases.

Graham County and the San County Apache Tribe have both experienced two COVID-19 related deaths, while Greenlee County has had one.

Those wishing to be tested may go to Gila Health Resources in Morenci. Call 928-865-7500.

Editor’s note: This story was edited at 3:34 p.m. Tuesday, June 16, 2020, to include information on the San Carlos Apache Tribal Council’s resolution.