Coronavirus surge has Arizona hospitals, ICUs at record capacity levels

By: - December 7, 2020 3:16 pm
covid-19 coronavirus doctor patient ICU

Photo via Getty Images

A spike in coronavirus cases has Arizona hospitals on the verge of hitting capacity, with 92% of intensive care beds and 90% of total hospital beds filled. The surge in hospitalizations has left the state with less hospital space than at any point so far during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to data published by the Arizona Department of Health Services, only 143 ICU beds are empty across the state, about 8% of the total. More than two in five ICU beds are being used by COVID-19 patients, the highest since July 1, when cases were surging across Arizona and the country and 11% of the state’s ICU inventory was available. 

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care has increased by 23% since last week, with an additional 139 people having to be put in ICU beds during the past week. 

Inpatient beds are also in short supply, with only 10% available. In the past week, the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients has jumped 17%. 

The majority of those hospitalized are 65 years of age and older; Arizonans between the ages of 20 and 44 are the second largest group. 

Over the last week Arizona has averaged 5,487 new cases per day with 75.4 cases per 100,000 people. The state has been facing substantial community spread of the illness for nearly a month. In response, Gov. Doug Ducey has made it easier for restaurants to expand outside dining, but has resisted calls from top hospital officials and city leaders to impose a statewide mask mandate and shut down indoor dining

Statewide, Arizona reported a total of 1,567 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, with the majority of them coming from Pima County. There have been more than 365,000 cases of COVID-19 in Arizona and over 6,950 deaths as of Dec. 7, according to ADHS. 

Over the past week, there have been 38,281 new cases of COVID-19 report, setting a new record for the most cases reported in a week, according to data by researchers at John Hopkins University.

In her Dec. 3 update video, ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ said the state’s surge line can help coordinate with overburdened hospitals to free up beds across the state. The state is also funneling additional funds to hospitals across the state, Christ said. 

Hospitals are also discharging more people who are either positive or suspected to be positive with the coronavirus than ever before. 

On Nov. 24 Arizona broke the record for the number of people discharged in a single day with 576 people being discharged, however, this record would continue to be broken in the following days. The current record is Dec. 5 with 742.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.