Phoenix hospital system pleas for vaccinations as COVID-19 cases rise
PHOENIX (AP) — One of Arizona’s biggest hospital systems renewed a call Thursday for people to get vaccinated, citing an increase in seriously ill COVID-19 patients in just a few weeks.
Dr. Michael White, of Valleywise Health, said those hospitalized because of the virus are “predominantly those that have chosen not to be vaccinated for whatever reason.”
Valleywise doctors were mostly treating people with moderate symptoms, but things changed two weeks ago, White said. Now, patients are coming in acutely ill and unvaccinated. At its main medical center in Phoenix, there are currently a dozen hospitalized, and most of them are in the ICU.
The delta variant, which is more contagious, now likely has a stronger presence in Arizona, White said at a media briefing.
White also pleaded in favor of vaccination on behalf of his staff, who he says are growing weary.
“They are tired from this,” White said. “We do not need to see another large spike within our communities when we have this tool available.”
Valleywise is also discussing mandating its roughly 4,800 employees and 1,500 contracted workers be vaccinated. Phoenix-based hospital chain Banner Health recently announced all staff will be required to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 as a condition of employment. White said he expects a decision to come soon.
Arizona public health officials reported another day of more than 1,000 new cases Thursday. According to the state dashboard, there are 1,174 newly confirmed cases and 10 deaths. Since the pandemic began, the state has counted 912,653 cases and 18,137 deaths total.
Hospitalizations have also risen slightly to 868.
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arizona ranks 9th nationwide for seven-day case rate per 100,000 people at 117.2.
Meanwhile, the percentage of the state’s vaccine-eligible population who have actually gotten at least partially vaccinated continues to hover around 51%. More than 6.7 million doses have been administered to date. Over 3.6 million have received at least one dose and over 3.3 million are fully vaccinated.