Pima Elementary staff member tests positive for COVID-19

PIMA – The Gila Valley has its first confirmed case of COVID-19.

Late Friday, Graham County Health Department confirmed the case involving a Pima Elementary School staff member. As a result, an evaluation and testing clinic will take place at Pima Junior High School.

Testing will take place:

  • Monday, March 16, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 17, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Friday, March 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The testing is for Pima students exhibiting symptoms, including fever and cough. Families coming to the clinic are asked to remain in their vehicles until given directions by clinic staff.

The Health Department is also asking fifth- and sixth-graders to voluntarily remain at home until March 25, unless seeking medical care.

Anyone experiencing fever, shortness of breath and cough should contact their health-care provider. Those experiencing difficulty breathing should visit the hospital emergency room.

As a result of the Corona Virus hitting the Gila Valley, cancellations and postponements are starting to come in.

Officials with the Javelina Chase cycling event in Duncan and Lordsburg, N.M., have 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.

Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center 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.”

Haven Health assisted living facility has also initiated a policy of limiting visitors “unless absolutely necessary.”

Graham County Chamber of Commerce announced via its social media that it would staff its offices and visitor center, but the doors would remain locked during business hours.

“The chamber door will be locked with a sign on the door asking visitors to call the chamber number during operating hours 928-428-2511.Visitors can ask questions over the phone and staff can send maps, pamphlets etc through our mail slot,” chamber officials said, adding that no decision on whether the Safford Wine Festival, scheduled for April 24-26, will take place.

Eastern Arizona College officials said a decision on whether to implement a distancing policy will take place before the end of spring break this coming weekend.

New policies may include virtualizing classes, limiting the size and number of campus gatherings, restricting College-sponsored travel, and ensuring student attendance policies do not penalize those with legitimate health concerns.

“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,” college President Todd Haynie said in a prepared statement.

At the direction of the National Junior College Athletic Association, all Eastern Arizona College athletic events have been canceled through April 3.

General things that everyone should do to prevent the spread of all respiratory illnesses include: 

● Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

● Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 

● Stay home when you are sick. 

● Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 

● Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular EPA registered household cleaning spray or wipes. 

● Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 

What you need to know about COVID-19: 

● COVID-19 causes a wide range of symptoms including fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. 

● Most people (about 80%) develop only mild symptoms, particularly children. 

● Like influenza, those most likely to develop severe disease are people older than 60 years and those with other medical conditions like heart or lung disease. 

● The virus is spread person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 

● People who are most at risk of becoming infected are those who have prolonged, close contact with a person who is infected with COVID-19 and is symptomatic. 

● There is currently no vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. 

● Find up to date information at azhealth.gov/COVID-19 and at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html