July 10, 2020

Pima County health director describes 'stable crisis' as pandemic strains hospitals

She says more resources are coming to the region but encourages residents to do their part.

Increasing cases and hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have Pima County’s public health director concerned that the situation has thrust the region into crisis.

“I call it a stable crisis. But we are definitely in crisis, and I have no qualms about using that word,” Pima County Health Department director Dr. Theresa Cullen said. “We need people to be aware that many of the hospitals on a daily basis are shifting patients.”

Cullen said that patients continue to receive adequate care when they’re transported and that the county benefits from its close proximity to Maricopa County, where more ICU beds are available. She said two disaster management teams recently arrived in Pima County to support intensive care services at two hospitals, along with a shipment of ventilators with another one on the way. Cullen said she welcomes the additional resources but is reserving optimism that it will have an immediate impact.

“I’m not hopeful right now, to be frank. If you ask me am I hopeful a month from now? Yes,” Cullen said. “Right now, the numbers we’ve seen the last few days do not show a stabilizing factor yet.”

“Our early weeks we had 200 to 250, on average, cases a week. Now we have over 2,000. So, people just need to be cognizant of the impact that puts on our hospital resources.”

Cullen called on individuals in the community to do their part by wearing a mask, avoid leaving home and practice social distancing.

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