New County Public Health Advisory: Healthcare system could be overwhelmed within 3 weeks if rate of infection not curbed

The Pima County Health Department Dec. 21 has issued a new Public Health Advisory on COVID-19 in the county, warning that the healthcare system is in danger of being overwhelmed. The new advisory includes continued adherence to mandatory mask wearing and the mandatory 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew throughout the county. It adds a request to limit gatherings to fewer than 10 people and asks all businesses to reduce their occupancy to 25 percent.

“We have surpassed critical levels of hospital bed usage due to the high rate of community-wide spread occurring in Pima County,” the advisory states. “In the last week, there have been multiple times when there have been no ICU beds available in Pima County; at different times, hospital medical/surgical beds have also reached capacity. Modeling indicates public health and healthcare resources in Pima County will continue to be further stretched and demand for those resources will overwhelm the healthcare system within the next two to three weeks.”

County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen issued the new advisory today noting that December is on pace to have more COVID-19 infections than all the previous months of the pandemic in Pima County combined.

“This isn’t just about COVID anymore and whether you think it’s a real problem or not. The patients filling these hospitals are absolutely real and if you have a heart attack, or if you get into a car accident, or your appendix bursts, there is a real possibility that you may not get the timely care you need to save your life if we don’t get control of this virus,” Cullen said.

“People are dying yet many of those deaths are preventable if the people of this community stay home, wear their masks and avoid people they don’t live with as much as possible,” Cullen added.

The limitations on gatherings and on business occupancy are voluntary, as are the continued requests to stay home, especially people over the age of 65 or who are medically vulnerable.