Valley health experts concerned over post-holiday COVID surge

Hospital hallway
Posted at 4:00 PM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 20:37:04-04

PHOENIX — Health experts say, while there seems to be a plateau in COVID-19 hospitalizations, there is concern over a post-holiday COVID-19 surge.

At this time, medical experts at Valleywise Health, Arizona State University, and Banner Health are all in agreement that the vaccine will help keep you out of the hospital if you get COVID-19.

“It certainly continues to be our single best tool that we have,” said Dr. Michael White.

Dr. White is the Chief Clinical Officer at Valleywise Health. He says, at Valleywise, they’re maintaining a steady number of admitted patients for COVID.

“Our inpatient census has been varying between 35 and 41 patients over the last 10 days,” he added. Though now, they’re seeing a troubling trend.

“Our percentage of folks that are not vaccinated, that are positive in the hospital today, is 97%.”

Dr. Joshua LaBaer is the Executive Director at ASU’s Biodesign Institute. He says the fastest-growing demographic for COVID-19 infection is children.

“One in four new cases of COVID is in a child,” he said during a press conference.

Dr. LaBaer says another big concern is the rise in the number of ICU beds taken by COVID-19 patients. He says this is especially troubling given the nurse shortage across Valley hospitals.

“That’s over 30% of them right now. If you talk to most hospitals they’ll tell you they’re pretty full of COVID-19 patients, and of course, the death numbers are also rising. So definitely some concerns here about where things are going in the state,” said Dr. LaBaer.

Dr. Marjorie Bessel, the Chief Clinical Officer with Banner Health, says hospitals are also seeing a spike in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

She says RSV has similar symptoms to COVID-19. ICU utilization across Banner Arizona’s hospitals did increase over the past 24 hours. It is unseasonable to see RSV this early, but it also reminds us we have influenza season ahead of us,” added Dr. Bessel.

All three health experts recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccine, and the flu shot, for better protection.

“It appears that it is safe to get both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine at the same time,” said Dr. White.

Click here for the latest COVID numbers in Maricopa County.