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Arizona hospital leaders plea for more mitigation measures

Posted at 5:35 PM, Dec 02, 2020

Hospital leaders around the state sent a letter to Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ, recommending increased mitigation efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The letter, dated December 1, recommends the following measures be enacted within 72 hours to limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stop indoor dining
  • No gatherings of greater than 25 people
  • Stop group athletic activities, including club sports
  • Bi‐directional COVID‐19 roadmap execution and enforcement—for reopenings and closings
  • Curfew after 10 p.m.

The letter is signed by executives and chief medical officers at more than a half dozen Arizona health systems, including Banner Health, Dignity Health and HonorHealth.

On Wednesday, Banner Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel said during a media availability COVID-19 patients now comprise 50% of ICU space in their Phoenix area hospitals.

"Banner Health is in favor of all mitigation that can help us flatten the curve," Dr. Bessel said. "Looking at facts, science and evidence that's out there of what has worked, curfew is one of those items that can work. We would be in favor of a curfew as well as other mitigation efforts to help us flatten the curve."

Dr. Bessel also said Banner could exceed 100% licensed bed capacity by December 9, putting them into surge territory.

Hospitals could face a tough couple weeks ahead, if not months. Also on Wednesday, ASU Biodesign Executive Director Dr. Joshua LaBaer said, in discussing with their modelers, a peak in our current COVID-19 surge may not occur until February.

Dr. LaBaer said they estimate roughly 65,000 people are currently infected with COVID-19 in Arizona. In a potential peak in February, that number could be 200,000.

"What would happen in terms of hospital availability, particularly for people who have things unrelated to COVID, but who still need to get medical care, is hard to predict," Dr. LaBaer said.