NewsArizona News


ASU experts: Arizona could be hitting hospital capacity in 1-2 weeks

Posted at 9:02 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-27 21:14:22-05

New information from the Arizona modeling team reveals that hospitals could hit capacity in one to two weeks as COIVD cases rise, which is sooner than expected.

FULL SECTION: Everything you need to know about coronavirus

The modeling team made up of nearly two dozen researchers from Arizona State University and University of Arizona found that current data was outpacing last week’s model, so they had to update the information.

“We are looking at starting to hit capacities in the state for hospitalization access in the next week or two,” said Joshua Labaer with ASU’s Biodesign Institute, "so things are looking like in the next week or two our hospitals could be reaching capacity or at least access to care could start to get limited.”

Labaer says we’re seeing a rise in hospitalizations before we even hit Thanksgiving, “all these numbers that we’re seeing rise rapidly right now are before Thanksgiving so this does not include all the travel related to Thanksgiving, it does not include the possibility that people will get together with other families on Thanksgiving.”

The new models from ASU show intensive care units (ICUs) and med-surge capacity will be met in one to two weeks compared to December 13 and 22.

“Based on the current trajectory with stable non-COVID hospital utilization and no change to current public health policies, Arizona is likely to exceed currently available ICU and med-surg bed capacity in early December,” the report states.

The researchers write that urgent public health measures are needed to change the trajectory, they suggest: a statewide masking mandate with effective enforcement, limiting gatherings of non-household members especially those with recent out-of-state travel, closing high-risk gathering places including bars, and limiting restaurant dining to outdoor dining and 25% capacity.

The former projections from last week estimate that holiday gatherings will likely add up to 1,200 additional deaths by February 1.

Emergency room doctors like Carl Mitchell with Valleywise Health are already seeing the large uptick in hospitalizations. “My concern it’s going to get worse, extremely worse,” he said.

Dr. Mitchell is volunteering to work Thanksgiving and expects it to be a busier holiday than past years. "Our ICUs are full and were just kind of at the brim, and so we have more of them that we have to take care of in the ER, and so it’s going to be a busy Thanksgiving it’s not going to be the same.”

As for hitting capacity in the coming weeks, Labaer said his concern is the staffing, especially if there needs to be tents and field hospitals.

“One of my concerns there is where are they going to get the staff to manage it, you can put all the beds and equipment you want under a tent, but if you don’t have nurses to care for the patients then how are you going to take care of those patients.”