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COVID cases surging in Arizona; highest level of patients in ICU beds since March

Hospital hallway
Posted at 5:11 PM, Jul 28, 2021

PHOENIX — Arizona is seeing a slow and steady increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitals are seeing the results.

COVID intensive care bed use is up 150% since July 1. Fifty-four Arizonans were admitted to the hospital overnight Tuesday alone, the most since March 5.

This as the state reports more than 1,350 new cases Wednesday. It’s being called the pandemic of the unvaccinated and the numbers only seem to support the nickname.

“We really can affect what’s going to happen,” said Dr. Ross Goldberg with Valleywise Health. “Do we have polio outbreaks anymore? Do we have smallpox outbreaks? We don’t because the majority of people are vaccinated against it.”

Despite the wide availability of a proven lifesaving vaccine, a huge swath of the state's population continues to refuse to get it.

As of Wednesday, 973 Arizonans are hospitalized with the virus, 332 in the ICU. Nearly all are unvaccinated.

“When the pandemic spikes, it puts stress on an already stressed system,” said Dr. Goldberg.

“Delta is better at doing its dastardly work and it is much more transmissible,” said Dr. Matt Heinz.

Heinz, an emergency room physician says the number of patients coming in with COVID is steadily climbing. But still nowhere near the surges of 2020, at least for now.

“They’re younger, they’re typically from a population of color, not always but mostly, and they tend to be lower-income,” said Dr. Heinz.

His real concern comes as unvaccinated school-age children return to classrooms lacking major mitigation efforts to prevent the spread.

He says while the governor has banned districts from requiring masks, technically that rule is part of the new budget which doesn’t go into effect until September.

“These are not in effect for two full months and if that means two full months of requiring masks for five to 11-year-olds, by God do it because you’re going to save some 30 and 40-year-old parents' lives,” said Dr. Heinz.