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Local health experts plea to residents and visitors as COVID-19 cases rise in Arizona

Posted at 5:43 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-12 00:14:02-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Pima County Health Department is calling for help from the community to lower the spread of COVID-19.

Their message is clear -- medical experts are asking county residents and those who are visiting to wear a mask, stay home, and avoid social gatherings.

RELATED: Pima County healthcare leaders, fire chiefs sign letter urging public to heed COVID-19 warnings

“We need every single person in our community to please listen,” said Dr. Jenitza Serrano during the press conference.

Local health care experts and the Pima County Health Department are urging people to stay home.

Dr. Francisco Garcia says the healthcare system is experiencing heavy stress and is near the breaking point.

“We have less than 2% ICU beds available and staff. If you are in a horrible car crash with other cars, you're going to get transported outside of Tucson,” said Dr. Garcia.

Health care experts, like Dr. Gordon Carr with Banner UMC say it has never been more important than now to act and take the spread seriously.

“Today we’re concerned because if nothing changes and the current trends continue in the next week or two...and by that, I mean the ongoing spreading in the community, the number of new cases, we’re seeing per day...it would rapidly outstrip our ability to accommodate the next available patient,” said Dr. Carr.

The leaders of several area hospitals and fire districts have joined an open letter from PCHD to residents and visitors.

The letter reads, in part:

“Our emergency departments and hospitals are full, and they are facing shortages of staff and critical supplies. Hospital workers are exhausted and there is no end in sight, presently.”

Vice President of Community Benefit for TMC HealthCare Julia Strange also expressed her concerns.

“If this were a hurricane or an earthquake we would all see the carnage. It would be in the streets and we would see it. In this pandemic it is neatly packed away in the hospital and we don't see it. Everything looks normal. I can tell you inside the hospital it is a very different scenario and the staff are tired and they are giving everything they have,” Strange added.

“This is really a plea from the bottom of our hearts. Wear a mask please, wear a mask, and keep a distance from those who do not live with you,” said Dr. Serrano.

For more information about Pima County Health Department recommendations, click here.