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Yuma becomes most recent part of Arizona to be hit hard by COVID-19

Posted at 5:35 PM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-30 00:17:02-04

YUMA, AZ — More than 2,900 Arizonans have been hospitalized by the coronavirus since the pandemic began.

The Arizona Department of Health Services revealed an increase of about 800 since Thursday.

A 40% uptick, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

“It wasn’t because 800 people showed up at the hospitals in the last couple days,” said ABC15’s data expert Garrett Archer.

Archer has been digging into the numbers from the beginning.

He says that increase is due to the state backfilling data, matching suspected COVID cases to hospital databases.

“Although we reported 800 additional hospitalizations the other day, it was from across a two month period,” said Archer.

Patients that had not been tracked in the past, now included into the overall numbers. The state’s hospitalization chart shows how the 800 was distributed, showing there was no short term spike.

So when it comes to hospital bed capacity, Archer says it’s holding steady.

“We’re actually seeing a very stable number of hospital occupancy even while COVID numbers are ticking up slightly,” said Archer.

However one area of our state is a slight concern.

The city of Yuma has seen it’s cases nearly triple in the last two weeks, from 310 on March 15th, to 929 today.

“What we’ve also seen is across the country we’re seeing a rise in cases in rural counties right now,” said Archer.

Yuma Communications Director Kevin Tunell says models they’ve been using suggest a peak in cases around the end of May early June.

Making the rise in infections less of a surprise.

“We’ve had almost 60 days of preparation to think this is about the time where we might be seeing our peak,” said Tunell.

The hope is a drop in cases is right around the corner.

He says the area’s primary hospital, Yuma Regional Medical Center, continues to have space in their ICU’s.

It has, however, been forced to transfer patients to other hospitals in the past.

If they do become overwhelmed again, declines in cases across other areas of the state should help.

“Maybe their hospitalizations are lessening which is a good opportunity for us in case we were to go into some sort of a surge, that there would be beds across the state available,” said Tunell.