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UArizona Modeling team says if surge continues hospitals could only care for COVID-19 patients by January

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Posted at 9:37 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 00:21:30-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Medical experts are urging Pima County residents to stay home after hospitals hit capacity Wednesday night.

[Related: Pima County: Hospitals at capacity, COVID-19 transmission high]

The University of Arizona's COVID-19 modeling team explains things could get worse by Christmas.

"If we don't intervene, quickly, then we will, in fact, overwhelm our hospital system and right now that's the critical weakness is we may not have room-- in the end--for everybody come Christmas Day," explained Dr. Joe Gerald.

In a recent report released by the team, it explained COVID-19 hospitalizations in Arizona could exceed the total number of hospital beds by then.

Gerald added it's possible by January 1st, hospitals could only be treating COVID-19 patients.

"This trend is only going to get worse as we move into the Christmas and New Year's holidays, and it's entirely possible that hospitals will be only providing care to COVID-19 patients by the first of the year," he explained.

His message comes at the same time Tucson Medical Center nurses wrote a letter to the community asking them to stay home.

“Now, we need you to see us. We are tired, too. We are tired of seeing young people, our elders, and everyone in between on ventilators. We are tired of watching people we know get sick from this virus. Our co-workers are getting sick and we are short-staffed,” wrote TMC nursing staff.

UArizona's COVID-19 modeling team stands by its original recommendation to state leaders.

“We recommend a shelter in a temporary shelter in place order to get the worst of this under control, and then evolve into more targeted strategies that might involve business closures or more mitigation in places like restaurants, bars places where people come into close contact with each other,” explained Dr. Gerald.