/ Modified dec 2, 2020 5:29 p.m.

Banner Health predicts full hospitals in one week

Facilities will exceed capacity soon as COVID-19 surges.

Banner University Medicine hospital emergency sign A sign outside the east entrance to Banner University Medicine directing visitors and patients to the emergency room.
AC Swedbergh/AZPM

Officials with the state's largest health care system expect their Tucson area hospitals to reach 100% of licensed capacity around December 9, as COVID-19 infects more people across Arizona. Banner Health's chief clinical officer, Dr. Marjorie Bessel, said Wednesday half the patients in Banner's Tucson intensive care units are being treated for COVID, up from 25%. She said Banner's Tucson hospitals may top out at 125 percent by mid-month.

Bessel also endorsed the night time curfew approved by Tucson leaders Tuesday night. "There was a series of issues and different tactics that we can take to mitigate. Curfew is one of them and we should consider doing that in places outside just Tucson," Bessel said during an online news conference.

As with other medical facilities, Bessel says Banner is not limited by the number of beds or ventilators, but by the number of trained staff available to treat coronavirus patients.

She also said Banner facilities are prepared to begin administering a COVID-19 vaccine whenever it becomes available, which, she says, could be as soon as December 14th.

"We believe that we will be ready to administer vaccine by December 14th. If Banner health receives vaccine December 14th or after, we will be there, and ready to deliver," she said.

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