A Valley doctor gives his take on the spike in COVID-19 deaths this week

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Our health care system is feeling the strain of COVID-19 once again. On Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported more than 2,600 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, along with 117 deaths. There were no deaths reported on Monday because of delays from the weekend.

Health officials tell Arizona's Family that the majority of patients who are ending up in the hospital with COVID-19, or dying from it, aren't vaccinated. From March to late August, just over 93% of COVID-19 deaths in Arizona were people who are not fully vaccinated. And, more than 92% of people in the hospital with COVID-19 aren't fully vaccinated.

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Sam Durrani is a local surgeon who's seeing this happen inside our hospitals right now. He says the COVID-19 patients who are vaccinated and end up in the hospital are mainly people with compromised immune systems. And, the death rate is going up because the health care system is starting to feel pressure.

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"When we're overwhelmed, the mortality rate goes higher. Our ICUs and our staff can only take so much volume until care becomes compromised," said Durrani. "Now, we're still delivering adequate care, but when the system is pressured, we'll see the mortality rate rise and that's what we're seeing."

Dr. Sam Durrani

"Our ICUs and our staff can only take so much volume until care becomes compromised," said Durrani.

Dr. Durrani said another big difference he's seeing in COVID-19 patients dying now versus in March 2020 is regret. He says many patients regret not getting vaccinated or not taking the pandemic more seriously. Health officials advise you to get vaccinated if you haven't done so. To find out where you can get the vaccine closest to you, click here.

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