July 17, 2020


A Sinking Ship': Arizona Docs Say Ducey Steered State Into COVID-19 Surge (Emily Shugerman, Jul. 17, 2020, Daily Beast)

Arizona reported more than 3,200 new cases in a single day Thursday, putting it behind only Florida in the number of new cases per capita. The figures were actually a slight decrease from previous highs, but the situation in the hospitals still looked dire--the number of ICU beds and ventilators in use by suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients hit new records Sunday. On Thursday, 90 percent of the state's ICU beds were taken and 53 percent of its ventilators were in use, according to state Health Department data.

Inside the hospitals, doctors told The Daily Beast they were working more than 100 hours a week, and "countless" nurses were out sick. At one Tucson-area hospital, a secondary ICU that closed when things leveled off over the spring recently reopened, and the post-anesthesia care unit was "cannibalized" to house coronavirus patients, according to emergency physician Larry DeLuca. Snyder said one of the hospitals where he works had started housing adult patients in its pediatric towers, and the emergency department was also shuffling beds to make room for COVID-positive patients.

Several of the half-dozen doctors who spoke to The Daily Beast characterized these next few weeks as a "tipping point" for Arizona, where things could go from under control to completely out of their hands.

"It doesn't seem like there's any end in sight," DeLuca said. "But not necessarily because of the rhythm of the disease, but because of our government's response to it."

One ICU physician in Tucson, who asked not to be named for fear of employer retaliation, said the official numbers actually underplayed the severity of the crisis. When hospitals reported that 90 percent of their ICU beds and half of their ventilators were in use, the physician said, those numbers included the extra beds and machines they'd brought in for the pandemic. If those percentages ever reached 100, there would be no feasible way for the hospital to scale up.

"If you were going by our pre-COVID capacity, we would be actually operating at 120 percent of capacity," the physician said, adding that the hospital where they work had run out of its own ventilator supply and was now using those supplied by FEMA.

Several hospitals have already launched part or all of their emergency plans, including calling in refrigerated trucks to use as morgues. 

Posted by at July 17, 2020 7:28 AM