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Official: Arizona COVID-19 cases will peak in mid-April, hospitals will need nearly double capacity

Posted: 5:27 PM, Mar 25, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-25 20:36:48-04
Arizona Department of Health Services Dr. Cara Christ and Gov. Doug Ducey

Cases of coronavirus in Arizona are expected to peak in mid-April and hospitalizations will be highest in mid-May, according to state health officials.

In a press conference Wednesday, Arizona Department of Health Services director Dr. Cara Christ said hospital capacity will need to nearly double, and that we have not yet seen the peak of the virus in either cases or fatalities.

A letter from ADHS to hospital partners stated that "Arizona is still in the opening stages of its COVID-19 outbreak and the number of cases within the state will increase significantly." Read the full letter here.

Christ said hospitals should be activating their emergency plans and triage procedures so they can clear beds to handle a mass event if necessary.

FULL COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Arizona

When asked about the possibility of a broader shut down, Christ said their agencies are keeping an eye on models to help make decisions on next steps.

"We don't want to shut down too early because you could then have to do it again, and again and again, so we're watching all the potential modeling," Christ said.

Gov. Doug Ducey, meanwhile, said the state is expanding testing, gathering supplies and equipment for health care professionals, and expanding hospital capacity to handle more patients.

Ducey said he wants to protect individuals from foreclosure and getting kicked out onto the street, and is reviewing an inrease to unemployment packages now that the stimulus package has been passed.

In addition, Arizona has also received federal approval to implement changes to help ensure access to healthcare for kids and vulnerable adults. The state is taking measures to expand access to care, especially in rural areas to free up doctors for other needed medical services.

Ducey also issued an executive order to expand telemedicine coverage for Arizonans in an effort to help people continue social distancing while still getting the critical care and services they need.

"We have work in front of us, and that's what we're focusing on today," Ducey said.

And, in partnership with Arizona Schools Superintendent Kathy Hoffman, Ducey started Arizona Enrichment Centers. The program, scheduled to start next week, is designed to offer child care for first responders, critical care healthcare workers and essential public wokers.