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Valley ER doctor warns Arizona is heading towards Covid-19 breaking point

“At this point 70 percent of the patients I see are either COVID positive or COVID rule out.”

PHOENIX —

On Christmas Day, the Arizona Department of Public Health reported more than 6,600 new cases of COVID-19 and 115 additional deaths.   

More than 8,400 Arizonans have died from coronavirus-related illnesses since the start of the pandemic.  

Hospitals continue to see a flood of new cases, with only 131 ICU beds now available statewide. 

“For months now it’s been here’s another one, here’s another one, put on the PPE, here’s another one,” said Valley emergency medicine physician, Dr. Brandon Lawrence. “At this point 70 percent of the patients I see are either COVID positive or COVID rule out.”       

In a series of 3 a.m. tweets earlier this week, Lawrence recapped his fight save one of his patients he first saw a month ago after checking into the ER.   

“This gentleman, I crossed paths with him at every downturn he had. He’d done Thanksgiving with his family. One of his children ended up being a low symptomatic or asymptomatic positive.”   

“It becomes this routine. Here’s another one that passed away, another one we are inhabiting. It absolutely becomes numbing and most days I just come home, and I don’t really talk about my shift with my family but for some reason that one hit home.”     

Arizona has seen a 52 percent increase in cases since the Thanksgiving holiday.   

Arizona Department of Public Health Director, Dr. Cara Christ addressed the impact of new cases on Arizona hospitals on Tuesday, “COVID-like illness continues to show increasing use of the emergency room and inpatient beds.”   

At Banner Health, ventilator use is up 500 percent since Nov. 1 and hospital officials had to bring a refrigerated truck at University Medical Center after morgue space filled up.

Dr. Lawrence, who does not work at Banner, says even though we have a vaccine and he fears without public buy in and more mitigation by the state, Arizona will soon be at a breaking point. 

“We are at that terrifying precipice where it just needs to get a little bit worse and we are going to be making those decisions of who needs to come off a vent and who doesn’t get a vent because we are almost out.”   

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