PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - To deal with another rise in COVID-19 cases, a major hospital system in Arizona is trying to hire hundreds of people from out of state while state health officials say another lockdown is possible. Predictive models show Arizona could soon experience exponential growth if we don't work together to slow the virus.
Gov. Doug Ducey released a video Tuesday where he took off his mask to address the camera as he gave an update on the virus in Arizona.
"Cases are spiking again," he said.
With more than 3,000 new cases announced Tuesday in the state, we're back at levels from late July. While Banner Health says it has adequate bed capacity at its Arizona hospitals right now, they're trying to bring in more medical workers. According to a statement from Banner, a typical winter calls for about 1,000 additional nurses, and this year they predict they'll need to double that to keep up with COVID-19. We asked Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, if this means another lockdown could be coming.
"Everything right now, I believe, is on the table," she said. "That would be a last resort because we also know that employment, getting a paycheck, having food on the table, having health insurance, all of that is critical to Arizonans' overall health."
Banner is using staffing agencies to try and bring those needed nurses from out of state, but those workers are in high demand all over the country. The hospital systems are up-skilling more than 900 current team members from other hospitals to help care for ICU patients.
The governor says the current numbers are a reminder that we need to rededicate ourselves to our best behaviors.
"Our goal is to protect public health, and to keep our economy safely open and moving," he said in the video.
Meanwhile, Christ says careful Thanksgiving plans could be key to pulling our numbers back down. She recommends having family holiday gatherings outside, if possible, or have extra ventilation inside. You should limit Thanksgiving celebrations to just 10 people and keep your distance and your mask on if you're spending time with anyone – even family – who doesn't live in your house.
"Anytime you bring people together, that's the best way to transmit the virus, so you want to make sure you are taking those precautions," Christ said.