Hospitals in Pima County reach bed capacity, in surge plans due to COVID-19 cases

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Posted at 3:20 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 18:10:27-05

TUCSON, AZ — The Pima County Office of Emergency Management issued an advisory Wednesday saying all county hospitals are at capacity.

According to the emergency alert, capacity has been reached due to a high-rate of COVID-19 transmission.

Officials with Pima County confirmed Wednesday that all hospitals in the county have implemented their surge plans, including halting elective procedures.

"Stay home if you can, especially if you're sick, and wear a mask when out in public," the alert said.

In a statement offering further clarification on Thursday, a Pima County official said anyone who needs to go to a Pima County hospital should still go and will still receive care thanks to their use of the state's "surge line" in helping to manage patient loads.

That statement reads in part:

"Our Communications Office has been working hard since then to make sure everyone in Pima County knows about the Public Health Advisory. We used our emergency alerts messaging system as a further step to alert the public about the health advisory and the mask mandate. The intent was to call more attention to the Health Advisory. The Health Department asked that we also let people know the county’s hospitals are having to use the state surge line and implement their own surge plans to deal with the volume of patients. We in the Communications Office shortened that for the brief emergency alert we sent to say “at capacity.

I should have given more thought to the fact that saying “at capacity” could be interpreted by the media and the public that hospitals are full and no longer taking patients. That’s not true and not what we intended it to mean. Given the reaction to the alert, we should have been more artful in our language. All of the hospitals in Pima County are making use of the state’s surge line to manage their patient loads, especially in relation to COVID-19 patients. Anyone who needs to go to a hospital in Pima County should go and they will be given care there thanks to the surge line and the extraordinary steps hospitals are taking in their operational plans to ensure that is the case."

RELATED: White House says Arizona COVID-19 mitigation strategies 'must happen now'

On Wednesday, AZDHS reported 721 new COVID-19 cases and 16 additional deaths of the virus in Pima County.

According to the latest data from the Pima County Health Department, the number of available ICU beds in the county was in the single digits last week. Inpatient capacity dipped below 50 available beds on Dec. 3.

On Wednesday, officials with the Arizona Department of Health Services announced details about the first shipment of over 383,000 COVID-19 vaccine arriving to the state next week.

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