Banner Chief: Arizona COVID-19 Outbreak Will Get 'A Lot Worse Before It Gets Better'

By Katherine Davis-Young
Published: Wednesday, December 9, 2020 - 2:47pm
Updated: Thursday, December 10, 2020 - 8:35am

Dr. Marjorie Bessel
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Marjorie Bessel

ICU beds in Arizona hospitals are now 90% full as COVID-19 continues to spread out of control in our state. Banner Health is caring for about half of the state’s COVID-19 patients.

Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel warns Banner hospitals could reach capacity next week.

“We are in a significant surge and it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. We have not yet really felt the effect of Thanksgiving, and we also have other major holidays coming up this month,” Bessel said in a video call with reporters Wednesday. "We expect to get significantly strained in the health care system which will mean more difficulty taking care of these very ill COVID patients, as well as more difficulty caring for other individuals who have heart attacks, strokes, infections and the like." 

Bessel said Arizonans can do their part to slow the spread of the virus by wearing masks and shrinking their social circles. But she and other Arizona hospital leaders are also calling for the governor to temporarily stop indoor restaurant dining in the state, ban gatherings of more than 25 people, and enact a curfew.

"We believe it is imperative that the Governor’s Office implement enforceable measures to limit the spread and save the lives of Arizonans,"  Bessel and seven other Arizona hospital leaders wrote in a Dec. 1 letter to Arizona's Department of Health Services. 

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