No COVID-19 cases in Graham County yet, hospital limits visitations

THATCHER – The Graham County Health Department announced Friday that there are no confirmed cases of Corona Virus in the county, but that isn’t stopping officials with reducing the number of public gatherings where the virus could be spread.

Officials with the Javelina Chase cycling event in Duncan and Lordsburg, N.M., announced that the event is postponed until fall of this year. The event was originally planned for March 28-29. A new date has not yet been announced.

The Graham County Republican Party announced Friday afternoon that Gov. Doug Ducey had postponed his appearance at the party’s annual Lincoln Day Luncheon Monday, March 16, at Eastern Arizona College. A new date for the luncheon was not announced.

Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center, in conjunction with the Health Department, has implemented visitation restrictions to protect patients who are vulnerable.

“There will be no visitors allowed except for those essential to the well-being of the patient,” said hospital spokesman Ryan Rapier. “We are asking that only those who have to be here for the well-being of the patient be here Those who might come to provide support or comfort – that is not essential. However . . . if a potential visitor, even if they might be considered essential to the patient, is experiencing or exhibiting illness of any kind, they will not be allowed in under any circumstance.”

As of Friday, Eastern Arizona College officials said the college will re-evaluate whether social distancing measures have to be implemented when students and staff are ready to return after next week’s spring break.

“As of today, there are no confirmed cases in Graham County, and we believe the risk of transmission to our campus is currently low,” said college President Todd Haynie. “However, we know that community spread is occurring in various parts of the United States. We feel it is necessary to prepare in the event we need to take additional steps to mitigate and slow the potential spread of the virus and to help protect the College community following spring break.”

Those steps could include virtualizing classes, limiting the size and number of campus gatherings and restricting college-sponsored travel.

Haynie said that the EAC residence halls remain open for international students and student athletes unable to go home for spring break due to intercollegiate sports events and travel restrictions.

Also on Friday, the San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation announced that the tests for two tribal members suspected of having Corona Virus have come back negative.

“For our patients’ and the general public’s safety, we have put in place thorough and effective protocols to immediately quarantine anyone who may get COVID-19, if and when that might happen,” said Victoria Began, CEO of Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation. “This is our protocol and, with the two recent patients, this shows that our protocol works.”

The Graham County Health Department said that individuals who are experiencing flu-like symptoms, or are questioning whether they should seek medical attention, should contact their primary care clinic by phone. All primary care clinics in Graham County have instructions on how to proceed should patients be experiencing symptoms consistent with Covid-19.