AP NEWS
ADVERTISEMENT

Hospital bed availability in Arizona low due to coronavirus

December 21, 2020 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — Health officials in Arizona reported 7,748 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Monday and one new death.

The figures bring the total number of cases to 461,345 since the pandemic began and 7,792 deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. The numbers often are lower on Mondays because of a lag in weekend reporting.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

COVID-19-related hospitalizations continue to surpass what Arizona saw during the summer surge with 3,925 hospitalizations reported as of Monday. Only 8% of all hospital beds and ICU beds were available and not in use.

ADVERTISEMENT

Several healthcare organizations urged Gov. Doug Ducey last week to implement stricter measures to control the spread of the coronavirus as vaccines are being distributed mostly to frontline workers and amid holiday celebrations.

Among the requests are to close bars and nightclubs, limit restaurants to outside dining and take-out service, implement a statewide enforceable mask mandate and limit public gatherings to 25 people.

“The health care system is overwhelmed and on the brink of considering the need to implement crisis standards of care,” the letter read. “We also face the reality that we will likely run out of available staff to care for patients who need our help.”

Ducey has resisted pressure to bring back closure orders that he imposed earlier in the pandemic, saying the current restrictions on how many people bars and restaurants can serve are sufficient. He has said he won’t take action that results in people losing their jobs during the holidays, adding he believes much of the spread of the disease is due to household gatherings.

The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, the Arizona Public Health Association, the Maricopa County Medical Society, the Arizona Medical Association, the Arizona Organization of Nurse Leaders and the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association signed the letter.

Among other developments:

—The Havasupai Tribe deep in a gorge off the Grand Canyon has extended the closure of its reservation to tourists indefinitely because of the coronavirus. The reservation is renowned for its blue-green waterfalls that bring in tourists from around the world. It has been shut down since March. The tribe voted Friday to extend the closure, saying visits can be rescheduled. But any fees paid for visitor or camping permits, and pack mule or other services will not be reimbursed.