'A Very Sad Story': Banner Health Reports Soaring COVID-19 Hospitalizations

Published: Tuesday, August 3, 2021 - 3:36pm
Updated: Wednesday, August 4, 2021 - 7:53am
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Arizona is now averaging more than 1,800 new COVID-19 infections per day — the most the state has reported since mid-February. And Arizona's hospitals are feeling the strain of the latest surge. Arizona’s largest hospital network, Banner Health, reports COVID-19 hospitalizations increased 95% over the past month; ventilator use soared 300%.

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Banner Health chief clinical officer, Dr. Marjorie Bessel, told reporters Tuesday that the exponential increase is similar to what Arizona experienced during surges last summer and winter. But Bessel said this time, infections are avoidable.

“It’s a very sad story when you see people come in who had the opportunity to get vaccinated and did not do so and then become critically ill," Bessel said. "We’re here for you, but we ask you to please get vaccinated, we’d much rather that you get vaccinated and not become ill and need our services.”

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Bessel said the large majority of hospitalizations remain among unvaccinated individuals. Just 45% of Arizonans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. But Maricopa County reports the number of vaccines administered recently is up slightly over previous weeks.

Banner Health facilities in Maricopa, Gila and Pinal counties this week reinstated visitor restrictions in response to rising caseloads. The facilities will allow only one visitor per patient per day.

“We are here to take care of everybody, COVID or non-COVID," Bessel said. "Surges reduce our ability to allow everything to remain open in the way that it normally is." 

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