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Banner reopens select respiratory units amid rising coronavirus cases

PHOENIX – Banner Health announced Tuesday it is reopening select respiratory cohort units as a precaution as coronavirus cases continue to rise in Arizona.

The units were closed after the June and July surge that the state saw, but with an increase in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, ICU beds in use and ventilators in use, the health care system made the decision to prepare.

“If these trends continue, we could meet or exceed the number of COVID-19 patients that we saw during Arizona’s surge in June and July,” Banner Health said in a press release.

Banner Health said at this time, the hospitals have adequate patient capacity, staffing and personal protective equipment. Hospitals are still performing elective surgeries as well.

Experts have previously warned of the possibility of a twindemic overwhelming the health care system and cold and flu season approaches. In this case, the twindemic would be influenza and COVID-19.

“This is concerning as Arizona hospitals will also be caring for a higher number of non-COVID-19 patients as we do every winter with the resurgence of other respiratory illnesses,” Banner said in the release.

On Tuesday, Arizona health officials reported 1,157 new coronavirus cases and 16 additional deaths, bringing the state’s documented totals to 240,122 COVID-19 infections and 5,891 fatalities.

According to tracking by The Associated Press, the rolling-seven day average for the state health department’s newly reported cases was at 1,009.57 for Monday, which was the highest since Aug. 13 and more than double the figure of 480 from Oct. 1.

The health care provider is also continuing to administer COVID-19 tests. According to the release, they’re averaging more than 4,000 coronavirus tests each week and said they’re only booking 25% of the available appointments for testing.

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