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Arizona becomes 'the hottest' COVID-19 hotspot

Posted at 3:44 PM, Jan 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-06 19:22:42-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Arizona has now become ‘the hottest’ COVID-19 hotspot. Johns Hopkins University data shows Arizona has the highest number of COVID-19 cases, per day, in the world.

Dr. Marjorie Bessel, with Banner Health, says the rise in COVID-19 cases is leaving hospitals stretched thin, scrambling to find bed space and staff to care for patients.

“One in four Arizonans who are tested for the virus are confirmed positive for COVID-19,” she said during a press conference.

That’s a seven-day average positivity rate of 25-percent.

Additionally, Dr. Bessel says Banner hospitals continue caring for roughly half of Arizona's COVID-19 patients.

“Our occupancy remains above 100% of hospital bed capacity and we continue to add beds wherever we can,” said Dr. Bessel.

For example, putting two beds in a room that would normally have one patient and opening up licensed beds in areas of hospitals they normally never use.

This is what she says hospitals look like amid the pandemic.

“Every single patient in our ICUs is critically ill, with no visitors and no family there to comfort them. Many times you’ll see multiple caregivers at the bedside, turning these patients whose lungs are so badly affected that even life support isn't enough to keep them alive. It’s really a very difficult scene,” she said.

Dr. Bessel adds more mitigation, enforcement, and personal commitment from Arizonans are needed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“This means implementing additional measures like a statewide mask mandate, a curfew, stopping indoor dining, canceling large gatherings like the Phoenix Open and adhering to a bidirectional roadmap for the opening and closing of businesses based on science and data,” she said at the press conference.

Looking ahead, she says the biggest challenge will be staffing.

Banner hospitals continue caring for patients and operating three Arizona vaccination sites that require hundreds of daily staff and volunteers.

“We are experiencing an uncontrolled spread of this deadly virus. It is stretching us to our limits and our predictive models indicate it will only get worse. Please don’t not put us in a position to ration care. Please do not put us in a position to decide who will get lifesaving resources and who will not,” she said.