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National Guard airlifts resupply to Kayenta as Arizona prepares for surge of COVID-19 patients

Arizona National Guard helps COVID-19 patients
Posted at 7:24 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 23:38:24-04

KAYENTA, AZ — In Arizona, we are seeing the first overwhelmed healthcare facilities due to coronavirus.

Tuesday the Arizona National Guard airlifted supplies to Kayenta in the northeast corner of the state. The supplies included 300 sets of masks and gowns and 2,000 gloves for healthcare workers.

Earlier this week, the Guard sent eight medical workers and equipment to set up a field hospital for overflow from Tuba City’s hospital

“They are very short on supplies, especially the clinic in Kayenta is totally out of all supplies; they have no PPE whatsoever,” said Col. Timothy Pfeiffer, who is also a Valley emergency room doctor.

Two Air National Guard units provided the PPE to the Navajo Nation out of their own supplies.

The sickest patients from the Navajo Nation have been transferred to Flagstaff Medical Center. A hospital spokeswoman tells ABC15, their facility is experiencing a greater need to care for critically ill patients, but there are enough ventilators to care for the patients.

“Each day, we’re working to create more space in our facilities to accommodate,” Trista MacVittie, Chief Experience and Communication Officer, said in a written statement. “As we prepare for a higher influx of COVID-19 patients, we are proactively evaluating which patients we can accept as a regional care facility and which may need to be sent to other hospitals for care.”

The ABC15 Investigators reached out to two of Arizona’s biggest healthcare providers, Banner and Dignity, asking them about their supply of ventilators and bed capacity for COVID-19 patients. Neither would provide their numbers. By a governor's executive order, the hospitals are required to report this information daily to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

ADHS said Monday that Arizona has 1,100 ventilators statewide and has asked the federal Department of Health and Human Services for 5,000 more. It is unclear when or if the state will receive the additional ventilators.

ABC15 Investigator Melissa Blasius is covering how coronavirus impacts Arizona’s healthcare system. Got a news tip? Email Melissa at, call 602-803-2506, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.