PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) –The state is breaking records but not in a good way. On Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 4,878 additional coronavirus cases and 88 new deaths. That’s a record-high single-day jump.
Ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, a time when families tend to gather, a local emergency room doctor is issuing a warning. “I literally can’t understand it. I don’t know what more I need to tell people how dangerous this is. I feel like a broken record,” said Dr. Murtaza Akhter from University of Arizona College of Medicine.
So far, the coronavirus has infected 84,092 people in Arizona. To put it in perspective, that is 10,000 more people than the population of Flagstaff. According to the state department of health, coronavirus cases started going up again following Memorial Day weekend, when people began to socialize after months at home.
“[Medical staff looks at] who needs to go first?” Dr. Ross Goldberg explained. “Not that [patients] are denied care. It’s just an order of who needs to go based on how sick they are and what they need in the emergent time.”
Dr. Akhter worries this holiday weekend will be disastrous. "Large gatherings are a terrible idea, to expose yourself to people who are immuno-compromised - can get sick easy, the elderly who have a higher rate of dying - is dangerous and selfish.”
Will Humble, who served as the director of the Arizona Department of Health Services under Gov. Brewer, welcomed the governor’s action although he said it came too late for over-stressed hospitals.
He said this time around there may not be a hospital bed waiting for you if you do get really sick, since ICU bed usage has reached an all-time high of 89 percent.
The demographics of people getting COVID-19 are also changing. “A lot of people try to say that COVID is all about the old folks but it’s also about the young folks too,” said Dr. Akhter.
He also said not to let your political views get in the way of your safety. If you do go out, even if it is just with immediate family, wear a mask.
There is a big concern here in Arizona because over 39,000 of the state's COVID cases are in the 20 to 44 age group, far more than any other age group.
“This idea of individualism is kind of crazy. There are plenty of rights of ours that are restrictive. I mean, you have to wear a seat belt; you get penalized if you don’t. There will be other years for barbecues; this is not it.”
On Monday, the Governor Ducey urged residents to stay home when possible, wear masks, and stop gathering in large groups.