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As Pima County experiences COVID-19 surge, ICU beds are limited and patients are being transferred

Dr. Theresa Cullen, Pima County’s Health Director, said some hospitals are running out of critically needed bed space and patients are being transferred.

PIMA COUNTY, Ariz — Arizona’s second-most populous county is reaching a critical level as it deals with COVID-19. Some Pima County hospitals have had, at times, no ICU beds available for patients.

Inside the hospitals, frontline workers are feeling the surge of cases in the county.

“Every night it gets a bit more intense, the volume goes up, more people com in that tend to be a little bit sicker,” Dr. Matthew Heinz, a hospital physician in Tucson, said.

Dr. Theresa Cullen, Pima County’s Health Director, said some hospitals are running out of critically needed bed space and patients are being transferred.

It’s a concern for Cullen because facilities had the space to care for these patients before.

“We get reports where there’s no ICU beds at certain hospitals so even though on the form it may look like they had one bed that morning they had a period of time where they had no beds,” Cullen said.

Heinz said his top concern right now is not having enough rapid tests available in hospitals.

“We have no idea where the virus is,” Heinz said. “I cannot stress enough for you, this is a war. Team human, team COVID, we need intel.”

He warns that if they keep having to wait for results other important resources will be lost.

“We will start running out of personal protective equipment again,” Heinz said.

As Cullen looks forward to where Pima County goes from here, she’s concerned.

“I’m humbled by this virus,” Cullen said.

Cullen said she’s pleading for the public’s help in slowing the spread.

“I’m really worried,” Cullen said. “We don’t see our cases stabilizing.”

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