AZDHS: COVID-19 hospitalizations up, but most beds in use by other patients

UPDATED: JUNE 6, 2020 AT 4:11 PM

PHOENIX — Despite coronavirus hospitalizations in Arizona rising, health officials said Saturday the majority of beds in the state are being used by patients who don’t have the virus.

There are more than 1,200 inpatients infected with the virus reported in Arizona hospitals, according to a report released from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

That number represents about 22% of inpatient beds and 33% of ICU beds currently in use statewide by those with the virus.

The state reports 20% of inpatient beds and 24% of ICU beds remain available.

Inpatient hospital bed use in the state was at its highest point on Thursday since reporting began on March 26, with only 13% of inpatient beds available.

Health Director Dr. Cara Christ in a press conference on Thursday attributed that to an increase of hospitalizations among non-coronavirus cases since elective surgeries were allowed to resume May 1.

“We are not in a crisis standards of care protocol right now. So we continue to monitor,” she said, adding hospital bed capacity is just one number to watch.

“I don’t know that it will be a specific percentage that would trigger that, but it will be looking at the totality of the data,” Christ said.

While hospitalizations have increased, coronavirus cases reported in the state have swelled significantly in the past week.

The four highest daily number of new cases reported have come in the last five days. The most ever in a daily update was 1,500 on Friday.

Another 1,119 cases were reported on Saturday, bringing the total to 25,451 statewide with 1,042 deaths.

Data presented comes after the state receives statistics and compiles them, however, and this process can take several days.

Tests for COVID-19 infections (PCR testing) also rose from 5.6% a week ago to 7.2% as of the daily report on Saturday.

Christ attributed the increased percentage numbers to an enhanced focus on testing among high-risk communities.

Gov. Doug Ducey and Christ on Thursday said they weren’t surprised by the negative trend in the state and said the rise in cases isn’t a cause for concern.

“The fact that we were going to focus on having more tests meant that we were going to have more cases,” Ducey said. “We anticipated that.”

Ducey’s comments come after five consecutive Saturdays of the “Arizona Testing Blitz,” which aimed to test 10,000-20,000 Arizonans for COVID-19 during each blitz day.

While the rise in cases was expected, Christ said COVID-19 is widespread and still circulating in the community.

“We urge every Arizonan, especially Arizonans in routine contact with our older residents or those at high risk of complications, to take precautions to prevent the further transmission of COVID-19,” she said in the release on Saturday.

Coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe outcomes, including pneumonia and death.

In most cases, a positive test won’t change a patient’s treatment plan.