As new coronavirus cases spike, Arizona hospitals are now at 87 percent of capacity for inpatient beds, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services website.
"This was our expectation," Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday, nearly three weeks after he lifted the stay-at-home order. Since then, both daily positive test numbers and hospitalized COVID-19 patients have increased.
This occurred at the same time as more elective surgery patients, and others also returned to hospitals. Approximately 1,350 inpatient beds remain vacant statewide.
"Arizona is prepared," Ducey added.
The state created a coronavirus surge hotline to help hospitals in hard-hit areas transfer coronavirus patients, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Since the phone line was established, 585 patients have been transferred.
"This call line distributes the patients more evenly across the state to try to not overwhelm one facility, and that has helped take some of the pressure particularly off our ICU census," said John Mougin, chief quality officer at Northern Arizona Healthcare.
The state health director, Dr. Cara Christ, said no hospital has reached crisis care levels, which she explains as "using protocols to prioritize who gets a bed, who gets medicine, who gets a ventilator."
Yuma Regional Medical Center, which had 88 coronavirus patients, would need twice as many patients to be in crisis, according to the top hospital administrator.
"It comes down to staffing; that's where the rubber meets the road," said Dr. Robert Trenschel, CEO of Yuma Regional Medical Center.
"Nursing staffing, respiratory therapists - we can get them on fast with agencies, but if everyone is pinging them, there's a struggle there, too."
Christ said ADHS will continue monitoring hospital occupancy information and would open temporary hospital facilities if necessary.