Report: Arizona's Hospitals Could Be Overwhelmed In Weeks

Published: Sunday, November 29, 2020 - 6:04pm

A team that models the coronavirus data says Arizona hospitals will be in dire straits very soon if current infection trends continue.

Joshua LaBaer with the ASU Biodesign Institute is on the team and says they think Arizona hospitals will be overwhelmed by mid-December unless action is taken quickly.

“Certainly if we reach a point where the hospital are full, ICU beds are full, then a likely outcome could be that they may have to decide what to do about beds and who goes where," LaBaer said.

In the summer, Arizona could get help from out-of-state medical professionals, but as most states see their infection numbers surge, that help probably won’t be available this time. There are a few things hospitals can do to make extra capacity. 

“The hospitals can reduce their occupancy by not doing elective procedures and things like that, and so that could open up potentially more beds for COVID patients, but that does mean that people are not going to get their elective procedures, and that’s a problem as well,” LaBaer said.

The modeling team doesn’t recommend another stay-at-home order, but suggests that a universal mask mandate and reducing capacity of restaurants and indoor facilities would make a noticeable difference.

"A mask mandate in the state would be a reasonable thing to consider," LaBaer said. "It is by far the most effective means we have of preventing spread. Staying at home, that's a tough one. Certainly that would reduce spread, there's no doubt about it."

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