Story at a glance
- Arizona hospitals are advised to activate surge plans as cases increase statewide.
- The statewide stay-at-home mandate expired on May 15.
Arizona hospitals have been ordered to activate their emergency plan for the second time during the coronavirus pandemic, following increases in cases over the past several weeks.
The Arizona Republic reports that the state health director, Cara Christ, issued a letter dated June 6 to hospitals advising them to prepare for an influx in cases and suspend elective surgeries if they are experiencing or near-experiencing capacity.
The same day the letter was sent, Arizona’s largest health care system, Banner Health, reported that its ICU occupancy was rapidly increasing, and it reached capacity regarding its nine ECMO machines.
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ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, is a pump that works like a lung to circulate oxygen throughout the body if a person is unable to do so on his or her own. Arizona’s ECMO machines are currently in use for patients whose lungs are so damaged that they need more than ventilators.
The Arizona Department of Health Services reports 789 new cases reported as of June 8. Deaths are still declining, having peaked on April 30 with 26 recorded fatalities statewide. Confirmed cases, however, have been steadily rising since mid-May, around the time Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R) stay at home mandate expired.
Current hospital beds available statewide are at 77 percent capacity as of June 7 data.
Across the state, confirmed coronavirus cases hit a new high of 1,157 on June 2. This brings the current statewide count to 27,678.
While both Ducey and Christ previously said that the rise in cases is expected as a result of increased testing capabilities, some disagree.
Speaking on FOX 10, the former director of Arizona’s Department of Health Will Humble said that “the reason for the increased number of cases is not because of the increase of testing, it’s because there is more community spread.”
Humble attributes the increased community spread to pre-pandemic behavior that came around May 15 when Ducey’s orders were lifted.
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