PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - COVID-19 cases make up about 12% of hospitalizations across Arizona and with more than 50% of the cases clustered here in Maricopa County, Valley hospitals have almost three times as many COVID-19 patients as Pima County. We found geographic concentration isn't the only factor spiking the numbers. This data dashboard from the state health department shows 1,101 of the 1,988 COVID-19 hospitalizations are based in Maricopa County. Dr. Scott Anderson is the chief medical officer for Banner Del Webb & Boswell, part of a 28 hospital system statewide.
"We're seeing hotspots in different communities," Dr. Anderson said.
He says Banner's 13 hospitals here in the Valley are at 58% total capacity, and only a fraction of that is from COVID-19 cases.
April 8 was the day Arizona hospitals would have run out of ICU beds, if they had not taken drastic action to increase their capacity, according to a data analysis by CBS 5 Investigates.
"So currently across the Valley, Banner Health is caring for about 250 patients with confirmed coronavirus," Dr. Anderson said.
Here's an interesting fact: he says roughly 54% of Banner's COVID -19 patients in the Valley are transfers from out of town, where the patient needed a higher level of care.
"We're bringing in patients from all over the state of Arizona into Phoenix," Dr. Anderson said.
Don't let that scare you into thinking Valley hospitals won't be able to cope. While state numbers show ICU beds approaching 80% capacity, Dr. Anderson says only about 20% of that's because of COVID-19. The other 60% or so, he says, is the typical pre-pandemic baseline.
The hospital should be ready for patients in three weeks.
"We can double, triple the number of our ICU beds if we need to," Dr. Anderson said.
On top of blocking off full floors and units dedicated to COVID-19-only cases, Banner's also putting patients there who present with those symptoms as a safety precaution.
"In general, we have two patients that we're evaluating for every one that's confirmed," Dr. Anderson said.
He's hopeful with the trends we're seeing to flatten the curve and is encouraging everyone to stay vigilant to protect yourself and your neighbors.
"We need to live our lives but need to do it in a very conscientious way that protects ourselves and our neighbors," Dr. Anderson said.
A surge in deaths from the coronavirus this week is likely the result of a boost in cases weeks ago and should slow because hospitalizations appear to have leveled off, Arizona health officials said Thursday.
And he says rest assured, your hospitals can pivot to keep up with the changing demand.
"We are prepared and expect that we will continue to see hotspots and flareups for the foreseeable future - we are optimistic that we won't see a significant second spike," Dr. Anderson said.
Dr. Anderson says the real thing to watch, more than hospital beds, is our number of nurses, our most valuable resource because when patients are severely ill, they need a 1:1 ratio.