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Arizona asks for 500 additional medical personnel amid spike in virus cases

Arizona asks for 500 additional medical personnel amid spike in virus cases
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Arizona has requested 500 additional medical personnel from the federal government to assist with a surge in coronavirus cases, Vice President Pence said Wednesday.

Pence flew to Arizona to meet with Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and state health officials as coronavirus cases and positivity rates spike in the state. The vice president told reporters that the state's hospital capacity was still at a "manageable" level but that Ducey indicated there was a need for additional personnel.

"We’ll speak with FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] to identify personnel that are available, but they’ll be packing up and moving out because we want the incredible health care workers here in Arizona to know that help is on the way," Pence said in Phoenix.

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The vice president told reporters a day earlier that FEMA had deployed 62 medical assistance personnel to Arizona.

Arizona on Wednesday continued to break records, with nearly 5,000 new cases of the coronavirus reported. The state also reported a high of 88 new deaths on Wednesday after the death rate had initially remained low despite the rise in cases.

The state's positivity rate, a measure of how many people have the virus out of all those who are tested, has jumped significantly in recent days to more than 20 percent. 

The state health director this week announced that hospitals could activate "crisis care standards," according to local reports, which allow medical workers to allocate resources to patients based on their likelihood of survival.

The U.S. has seen an uptick in coronavirus cases over the past few weeks as states ease restrictions meant to slow the spread of the disease and as testing increases.

Pence said Tuesday that there are 40 states that have rising case numbers, rising positivity rates or both and that roughly half of all new cases are coming from California, Arizona, Texas and Florida.

The vice president and Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, traveled to Texas on Sunday and to Arizona on Wednesday. They will both visit Florida on Thursday.