ARIZONA, USA — Right now, the coronavirus is spreading faster in Arizona than any other state and hospitals are bracing for the consequences of the Thanksgiving wave in the coming days.
It’s one reason why a trio of doctors from the Committee to Protect Medicare is asking Governor Ducey to tighten COVID-19 restrictions heading into the Christmas holiday.
The doctors are from different parts of the state and say they are seeing first-hand the suffering and death of this ruthless epidemic.
“Governor Ducey needs to know that Arizona has been and is at its tipping point,” said Dr. Sheetal Chhaya, a rheumatology specialist in Phoenix.
With ICU beds hovering around 90% capacity and with predictions they will top 100% in many hospitals, the doctors are asking the governor to buck some of the pressure from his party and require small gatherings only be outdoors. They also want a statewide mask mandate.
Gov. Ducey was not available for interviews Friday, and a spokesperson for his office did not respond to questions late in the afternoon.
State Healthcare Director Dr. Cara Christ discussed the issue during a news conference.
“We continue to monitor the data and make recommendations,” Christ said. “I myself keep gatherings for me to less than 10. But there is an executive order prohibiting more than 50 people from getting together. So we are encouraging people to really limit the size of events.”
The difference between encouraging proper distancing measures and mandating them may be the difference between life and death, the doctors say.
“COVID-19 is throwing missiles at us and Governor Ducey thinks he can protect the people of Arizona by handing out umbrellas,” said Dr. Cadey Harrel, a Family Medicine Specialist in Tucson. “Hospitals are at near capacity and are at a breaking point. We are short of healthcare workers because they are getting sick and dying.”
Restaurants are required to limit capacity to 50% and most businesses require masks indoors. The governor’s office recently announced $25 million for hospitals to hire more staff and provide bonuses.
Dr. Chhaya said they aren’t getting the help they need.
“In our own hospital system our staff is being asked to double up on shifts and getting them to do this and remain healthy is quite challenging,” Chhaya said.