PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Valleywise and Banner Health each hosted a COVID-19 briefing about the number of unvaccinated patients who are sick in Arizona hospitals.

Valleywise Health reported that of the 47 patients that are hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday, 93% are unvaccinated. The remaining percentage of patients have had at least one dose of the vaccine. Banner also reported 93% of their hospitalized patients are unvaccinated as well, but did not specify an exact number of patients. 

"Our ventilator usage for COVID patients has increased by 50% over the last two weeks," said Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer at Banner Health. "Over 50% of our patients who are on ventilators in our ICUs are COVID positive, so while we are not at the same level we were in the prior surge early this year, the increase we are experiencing is very concerning." 

Banner Health Thunderbird

While Banner Health says it has adequate bed capacity at its Arizona hospitals right now, they're trying to bring in more medical workers.

Banner Health added pediatric COVID patients are continuing to grow at the same rate as the beginning of August. The number of pediatric patients account for about 5% of hospitalized COVID patients, according to Banner Health. However, the number of children in ICU or on a ventilator remain low. 

Banner is monitoring up to 60 pediatric COVID-19 cases a day at its Arizona locations. "We're seeing 20 and 30-year-olds that are being hospitalized," said Dr. Michael White, chief clinical officer at Valleywise Health. "Over the weekend, we've had a number of patients that passed away young and in their 20s, previously healthy individuals."

Valleywise noted that of all the patients with COVID, none were children. The average age that is being hospitalized with COVID-19 is 49-year-old patients. However, the hospital has also seen an increase in 20 and 30-year-old patients. Banner also added they are seeing patients within the 20-60 age range. 

Dignity Health says more than 90% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are not vaccinated. "We ask our patients, or when necessary their legal guardians, of the patient's vaccination status. We urge the community to be vaccinated if they haven’t already. The vaccine is our most powerful tool to prevent the virus from mutating and to end the pandemic," a spokeswoman said.

Arizona's Family reached out to Abrazo and HonorHealth for information about hospitalizations with unvaccinated and vaccinated patients multiple times. They have not responded to our inquiry.

Nursing Shortage

Banner and Valleywise each spoke about the nursing shortage in hospitals. Valleywise Health's main medical center reported 8% of the nursing staff was out. Banner has also noted the shortage, stating they have 1,000 bedside nursing positions and 300 additional positions open currently. Click here for information about jobs with Banner Health and with Valleywise.

A big concern for both of the slammed hospitals is staffing. Banner Health said it's working on hiring more people, and Wednesday, Valleywise said it was short 22 nurses. "Prior to this, we would always have some days we were short but never in this double digits, 20 range at all, so this is new for us just based on staffing challenges across the industry," said Dr. White.

Officials are looking for another peak of COVID-19 at the end of September if the current wave continues, but cases may drop in October. Both hospitals are stressing the importance of getting the vaccine to the public, encouraging those who are able to get the vaccine do so. 

Click here for information about receiving a vaccine in your neighborhood. 


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