Latest COVID-19 wave in Arizona is expected to peak in mid-January, Banner Health says

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By Stephanie Innes | Arizona Republic

Arizona’s largest health system expects COVID-19 hospitalizations will peak in mid-January, but the omicron variant could change that prediction.

Inpatient volumes within hospitals in Arizona are at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic, Banner Health chief clinical officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel said during a briefing on Tuesday. The latest wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations, driven by unvaccinated patients, is not over, she said.

The health system was operating Tuesday at 97% of its staffed bed capacity and 10 Banner hospitals in Arizona were operating at more than 100% of their ICU staffed bed capacity, officials said. 

As of Monday, 2,764 patients statewide were hospitalized with confirmed and suspected COVID-19, and nearly 700 were in intensive care, state data shows.

“Banner’s predictive modeling tools show no signs of letting up,” Bessel said. “Our forecast is for our peak hospital census to occur in mid-January, which, according to our forecasts, also coincides with peak COVID cases. …  We still do not yet know what the impact of the omicron variant might be in our forecast.”

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