Coronavirus AZ: Hospitals Activate Emergency Plan As Cases Spike

Danny Wicentowski

ARIZONA — Hospitals, health officials and observers continued to raise concern about Arizona's coronavirus outbreak this week. While cases have notably increased in multiple states, experts and health officials have singled-out Arizona as its metrics have surged. Hospitalizations have jumped roughly 50 percent since Memorial Day.

As of Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 1,274 hospitalizations, just four fewer than the record-high reported on Friday, the same day when the state also recorded its largest single-day increase in cases with 1,579.

The latest figures, as of Wednesday, are just shy of that record. The health department reported another 1,556 lab-confirmed cases and 25 deaths, putting the state's total cases 29,852 and its death toll at 1,094.

The rising numbers, along with a dwindling number of available hospital beds, are raising alarm.

"We have seen a steady climb of COVID-19 cases in Arizona over the last two weeks," Banner Health, the state's largest hospital system, tweeted on Monday. "This trend is concerning to us, and also correlates with a rise in cases that we are seeing in our hospital ICUs."

Along with fewer available beds in the intensive care units, Banner Health added that it had seen a fourfold increase in coronavirus patients needing ventilators.

Indeed, the latest data show 83 percent of Arizona's hospital beds are filled. Over the weekend, Arizona's Director of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ asked hospitals to "fully activate" their emergency plans, which include reducing or suspending elective surgeries depending on available staff levels.

In a Twitter thread posted Tuesday, the state health department cautioned that expanded testing capabilities "will continue to result in more cases."

"Expect the numbers to climb as this level of testing continues," the department added, "and as we focus on vulnerable populations and those with symptoms."

This article originally appeared on the Across Arizona Patch