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Banner Health warns COVID-19 trend could overload Arizona hospitals

Banner Health urged policy makers to balance economic strain with healthcare strain.

PHOENIX — An Arizona hospital group warned COVID-19 cases were rapidly increasing after the stay-at-home order was allowed to expire.

Banner Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel told media Friday that intensive care units in Arizona were very busy.

Bessler said hospitals in Maricopa County were nearing maximum capacity for intensive care units.

There was a steep incline of COVID-19 patients on ventilators in Arizona since April 26. About 50% of those patients are hospitalized in Banner Health facilities. 

Banner Health hospitals had 116 patients on ventilators as of Thursday.

"If people are out and about, I feel there are ways people can do that safely," Bessler said in a news conference.

She warned that under the current trend, Banner Health would be stretched to 125% bed capacity.

Banner Health is balancing resources between hospitals to prevent overloaded hospitals.

Bessel urged the public to continue to practice social distancing to minimize the load on the healthcare system.

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These measures included:

  • Not leaving your home if you are ill except to get medical care
  • Wear a mask in public
  • Stay six feet from others in public
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Wipe down high touch areas
  • Avoid large gatherings of 10 or more people

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