Arizona hospitals bracing for crisis as COVID-19 cases surge

ICU units approaching full capacity in Phoenix, Tucson

Cynthia Carsten, assistant chief nursing officer at Tucson Medical Center, talks with Bill Fleming, director of security for the hospital, inside TMC’s COVID-19 command center./Rebecca Sasnett / Arizona Daily Star

By Patty Machelor , Alex Devoid | Arizona Daily Star

The coronavirus pandemic is intensifying in Arizona, mounting evidence shows, with hospitals seeing sharp increases in patients and emergency-room visits.

Last week marked the largest week-to-week increase of coronavirus cases in both Arizona and Pima County since the pandemic began, and Banner Health is reporting its ICUs are at full capacity in Maricopa County and rapidly approaching full capacity in Tucson.

New, confirmed cases in Arizona totaled 4,500 from May 24 to May 30, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, as of Saturday morning. That’s nearly a 50% increase from the week before.

In Pima County, cases totaled 481 over the same period, marking an 85% increase from the previous week.

The county Health Department is watching closely to see if these cases will turn into hospitalizations, visits to intensive care units and ultimately deaths, said Dr. Francisco Garcia, the county’s chief medical officer.

“The jury is still out,” he said. “This is top of mind for all the hospitals and certainly for us here.”

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