Arizona reactivates hospital emergency plan as COVID-19 cases spike after reopening

Guests dine in-house at a restaurant Wednesday, May 13, 2020, in Phoenix. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has allowed the reopening of restaurants in-house dining, gyms, spas and community swimming pools since Monday. Professional sports leagues will be allowed to begin practicing in Arizona after the state's current stay-at-home order expires Friday. (AP Photo/Matt York) (Matt York, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

PHOENIX – For the second time, Arizona is activating its hospital emergency plan as cases of COVID-19 continue to increase in the state following implementation of their reopening plan.

Arizona was one of the earliest states to begin reopening, but since Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order expired on May 15, COVID-19 cases have soared 110 percent - more than doubling to 27,678, as of Monday, according to NBC affiliate KPNX.

The governor said last week that an increase in cases was due to an increase in testing. But ICU and ventilator use are rising in state hospitals.

Joe Gerald, program director for public health policy and management at the University of Arizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health, told KPNX that the state’s case trajectory could pressure hospital capacity again.

“If we continue for the next several weeks like we have the past few, it’s very possible that we’ll run out of capacity in our hospitals and ICUs sometime in early July,” Gerald said. “Since mid- to late April, Arizonans have kind of developed quarantine fatigue and have been out and about more.”

Arizona state health officials sent a letter, similar to the one sent in March, to hospitals, urging them to activate emergency plans, which means hospitals might have to curtail or stop elective surgeries if they can’t meet the state’s capacity requirements.

“Unless there is very widespread testing, contact tracing, and isolation of cases, which there is not, paired with near universal mask wearing when people are in public spaces, which there is not, I don’t know why anyone would imagine we would see anything other than increased transmission relative to when the stay-at-home order was in effect,” Michael Worobey, an infectious disease expert and head of the University of Arizona Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, wrote in an email.

Worldwide, more than 400,000 have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, including 110,000 in the U.S.

In Michigan, cases and deaths have been slowing for weeks, as the state continues to slowly reopen businesses, including restaurants and soon, personal care business.

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Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.