Friday, June 12, 2020

The pandemic is far from over - and it's about to get worse as hospitals fill up. AZ is now a 'hot zone of national interest'

Olivia Messer in the Daily Beast reports that COVID Is So Bad in Arizona They’re Running Out of Beds. “It’s like Katrina,” one health expert in the state said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Arizona had at least 28,296 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,706 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, which also showed a concerning upward trend. The state had 1,553 new cases on June 5, its highest daily peak for new cases since the pandemic began. According to a comparison of all 50 states, the Johns Hopkins data showed that Arizona had among the biggest upward case trends of any state in the U.S.

After the state’s largest hospital system warned on Monday that its intensive care units were quickly approaching capacity, state and national experts called the upward case trend so “alarming” as to raise the possibility of a second stay-at-home lockdown order, The Arizona Republic first reported.

Says a nurse interviewed by The DailyBeast: “We’re going to run out of room to care for people, we’re going to run out of PPE, out of ICU beds, out of hospital beds, and we aren’t going to be able to provide care for the population of people who are going to need it,” she said, growing frustrated. “I don’t see people wearing masks. I don’t see people social distancing.”

Dr. Megan Jehn, a clinical epidemiologist and an associate professor of global health at Arizona State University, told The Daily Beast that the exponential growth in the state’s case numbers is evidence of an increase in community transmission. That is, it wasn’t just, as Gov. Doug Ducey has said, a result of increased testing capacity.

Jehn called the last few weeks’ numbers “particularly concerning.”

“Increased community spread is like a fire, with little embers everywhere,” said Jehn. “If we can’t control this, we’re going to see a rapid escalation of cases, of people potentially getting really sick. We need to act now to get ahead of this growth.”

“The priority has to be to get people to reduce contact, mask-wearing, and community responsibility,” she continued. “If not, a lockdown is maybe where we’re headed.”

Still, Jehn acknowledged that a secondary lockdown “just may not be acceptable to the community.”

Mark Sumner (Daily Kos Staff) reports that The COVID–19 pandemic is far from over, and the time of greatest danger may be right now.

And that is especially true of Arizona.

Consider just Pima County. I started recording the daily number of cases reported by the Daily Star back in May. At the end of May, the 5-day average was 49 per day. Now, June 12, the average for the most recent 5 days is 106 per day.

Here are excerpts from Sumner’s report.

Now that Boris Johnson has shepherded the United Kingdom into the top four countries for COVID–19 cases, the most infected nations in the world are: the United States, Brazil, Russia, and the U.K. Also known as Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, Vladimir Putin, and Boris Johnson. That Donald Trump and his three tightest international buddies should end up topping the charts on infection and death is no coincidence. Don and the Trumpettes share an attitude that says they know more than the doctors, more than the scientists. Hundreds of thousands of people have died to feed their egos … so far.

But it’s not just the world that is seeing a fresh influx of cases. Inside the U.S., states that were quick to shrug off social distancing guidelines—and those that never really implemented them in the first place—are seeing a surge of new cases. More than a dozen states have reported their peak number of cases, not in March or April, but in the last week. And in some states, like Arizona and Texas, the growing number of cases is leading to a surge in hospitalizations that is threatening to crack apart health care systems just when many people were beginning to relax.

… where we are now is just like March 31. Only no state is prepared to issue new lockdown guidelines. More people are already hospitalized, meaning that fewer beds—and specifically fewer ICU beds—are available to absorb any fresh surge of patients. The coronavirus task force is not appearing on television every day and the media is not leading every news cast with concerns over the virus. Across the country, hospital beds are already occupied with patients who have yet to recover from the disease, as well as those still staggering in. And COVID–19 is far more widely and generally disseminated now, with millions of cases in the U.S. alone.

Arizona is in a state of high alert as 76% of ICU beds are already occupied.

That number is likely an underestimate. The Arizona Capitol Times reports “Arizona hospitals at 83% capacity.”

There is no state in the nation that either issued guidelines tough enough to really halt community spread of COVID–19, and no state that enforced those guidelines sufficiently. However, those stay-at -home orders and shutdowns did slow the spread of the disease. They took that “R0” value down to something that meant fewer people caught it and fewer people died. Nowhere was it sufficient to snuff it out. Even those not tough enough guidelines have now all but vanished. The rate of transmission is already going up, even if we’re still days or weeks away from seeing the effect.

… Not even in New York City have enough people been infected to significantly reduce the rate of transmission. Think of this as fire season. There are two million sparks out there, most of the firefighters are already occupied, and no one has swept the damn forests.

Don’t play with matches. Or with COVID–19 …

because this disease is a rat bastard. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you can’t. Stay as safe as possible. Because this is not over.

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