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Dozens of workers at HonorHealth test positive for coronavirus

Posted at 10:00 PM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 13:23:49-04

Dozens of healthcare workers inside one of our state’s largest hospital systems have contracted the coronavirus.

ABC15 has learned from an internal email that 34 staff members with HonorHealth have tested positive. This news comes as the number of cases in the state now tops 145,000.

FULL SECTION: Everything you need to know about coronavirus

“I’m terrified if I get this thing what will happen,” said Dr. Ross Goldberg.

Dr. Goldberg is the president of the Arizona Medical Association. Like many medical professionals, he’s at his wits’ end with the politicization of the situation.

“The health care workers, like we’re not making this up, this not something I enjoy talking about,” said Dr. Goldberg.

For weeks, numbers surged across the state, but things may be turning around.

According to HonorHealth's email, it’s seeing an encouraging downtrend in overall hospitalizations and a flattening in positivity rate. Their findings align with the latest state data.

“Again, look at time delay, now we’re in the window of seeing what happened after Fourth of July, we’re now kind of the two weeks out from there, are we gonna start seeing numbers go up?” said Dr. Goldberg.

Leadership with HonorHealth remains cautious too as 141 of their 168 ICU beds are filled, nearly 65% of ventilators are in use and they continue to treat 314 patients with the virus across their five campuses.

“You can have all the beds you want, if you have no staff members, the bed really doesn’t do you any good,” said Dr. Goldberg, who says a contract signed by the state to bring hundreds of workers in couldn't have come at a better time.

However many of those same workers have questioned whether they are safe to come to Arizona.

Early in the pandemic, the supply of personal protective equipment was inadequate across the state. That reality forced some hospitals to have staff reuse what they had.

“Nobody should have to reuse PPE. We need to protect their health, we need to make sure they have adequate supplies at these facilities,” said former state emergency management director and ABC15 analyst Wendy Smith-Reeve.

State officials say that the supply chain is now strong, however, Smith-Reeve says hospitals should be demanding specifics.

“We do need to ask the federal government, 'what does that supply chain look like?' Not just for the near term but for the long term,” said Smith-Reeve.

HonorHealth hopes to resume elective surgeries after July 27, but hospital officials say it all depends on the current situation in the state.