Graham County Department of Health Services announces temporary closure of all public schools, urges residents to limit social contact, and expects outbreak could expand

Safford, Ariz. – In coordination with Governor Doug Ducey, the Graham County Department of Health Services announces the closure of all public schools until Friday, March 27. In light of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Graham County, the department strongly encourages residents to limit social contact and take recommendations to stop the spread of the disease.

“This is the first positive case in Graham County, and it reinforces the importance of all the community mitigation efforts we’ve been talking about for the past two months,” said Brian Douglas, director of the Graham County Department of Health Services. “We are now in a mode of prevention and monitoring, and strongly encourage our community to practice social distancing and good hygiene to avoid sharing germs with others.”

The purpose of social distancing is to prevent sick people from coming in close contact with healthy people. It can include measures like cancelling large events, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining approximately six feet away from others. With COVID-19, the goal of social distancing is to slow down the outbreak to reduce the chance of infection among high-risk populations, reducing the burden on health care systems and workers. 

As stated in a previous release, an evaluation and testing clinic for Pima students will be held on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This clinic will be specific for Pima students who have been impacted and have symptoms, including fever and cough. At the testing clinic, individuals should remain in their vehicles and wait for a staff member to provide instructions.

“We are reaching out to people who may have come into contact with the infected individual,” stated Douglas. “If you’ve been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 while they were ill, you should monitor your health for fever, cough, and shortness of breath during the 14 days after the last day of contact. You should not go to work or school, and should avoid public places for 14 days.”

In an attempt to avoid high volumes of visits from people who are healthy, the public is encouraged to avoid going to hospitals and clinics if symptoms are not present. 

As the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to expand and as testing capacity in the U.S. increases, the Graham County Department of Health Services expects more cases to be detected locally. While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, serious illness could occur. Older people and people with certain underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example, seem to be at greater risk of serious illness.

This is a rapidly evolving situation. The Graham County Department of Health Services will continue to update the public as circumstances warrant. For more information about COVID-19 visit