PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Earlier this year, Valley hospitals were pushed to the brink with the first wave of the coronavirus.

"I don't think any of us should get complacent," said Dr. Paul Lynch, with Arizona Pain Specialists. "This disease is lethal. It's still killing close to 1% of people who contract it."

Dr. Paul Lynch

"I don't think any of us should get complacent," said Dr. Paul Lynch, with Arizona Pain Specialists.

A recent rise in COVID-19 cases has many health experts predicting a second Arizona wave in the weeks ahead. But this time may be different.

"Our clinical experience in how we've dealt with patients through first waves has definitely helped us gain knowledge, as far as how aggressive we should treat these patients that come in," said Dr. Joseph Winchell, with Banner Desert Medical Center.

Dr. Keith Frey is the chief medical officer for Dignity Health of Arizona. Dr. Frey said that hospitals and health care workers are in a far better position to handle another COVID-19 crisis than they were back in April, May, June and July.

For one, there's no current shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE. There are more treatment options available. Staff members can better identify symptoms. Patients are being diagnosed faster, thanks to COVID-19 testing that's now readily available.

PPE

There's no current shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE, like there was before.

"In select patients, we can do a rapid test and know within 60 minutes if that's going to change a decision, like they need to be admitted or need a therapeutic," said Frey. "We can actually identify folks in an ER within the hour."

Hospitals have also done a better job of separating COVID-19 patients to reduce the spread. By treating less severe patients faster and more efficiently, they can free up hospital beds.

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"This is a very, very contagious virus," said Frey. "Just because we are better equipped to diagnose and take care of it, and our fatalities have come down, this is nothing to mess with. This is not a virus you want to get."

Dr. Lynch said it is important that Arizonans remain vigilant about wearing a mask and social distancing.

Jason Barry is best known for his Dirty Dining Report which airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on CBS 5.  He is also the storyteller behind CBS 5's Pay It Forward which airs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
 
 

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