Pima County needs a lot more personal protective gear for healthcare workers on the front line of dealing with the COVID-19 virus that state officials now consider to be be in widespread transmission.
Pima County got a shipment from the state's portion of the federal National Strategic Stockpile, but it's not nearly enough, even when combined with the supplies that Pima County was able to find from outside sources, according to Pima County Health Director Bob England.
"It was just a pathetic drop in the bucket compared to the need," England said in his morning briefing via YouTube.
Pima County could only deliver 9 percent of the surgical masks that were requested, 3 percent of the goggles and face shields that were requested, 2 percent of the gloves that were requested and only 1 percent of the gloves that are worn.
England said the county is continuing to search for alternative solutions, such as working with local distilleries to create hand sanitizer.
"We are pulling out every stop we can but we can't supply what doesn't physically exist and right now, all this stuff is backlogged all around the country," England said. "This is just another reason to, please, don't go seek healthcare right now if you don't need it. We need to preserve these supplies for the healthcare workers who take care of us when we need it."
Gov. Doug Ducey touted the release of 25 percent of the state's supply from the Strategic National Stockpile earlier in the week and said the state had requested more supplies.
Ducey announced today more steps to prepare hospitals for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases, including asking hospitals to develop strategies to re-route non-critical patients to other providers, create plans to increase staffing levels, increase bed capacity by 50 percent by April 24, require pediatric hospitals to accept patients up to 21 years of age and increase Medicaid payments to hospitals.
Meanwhile, with COVID-19 cases now confirmed in all Arizona counties except Greenlee and Gila counties, state health officials upgraded Arizona's status to "widespread transmission" of COVID-19.
“Given widespread transmission, all Arizonans should expect that COVID-19 is circulating in their community,” said Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona Department of Health Services director. “COVID-19 is a serious disease that is highly contagious and can be fatal in anyone, especially our elderly population and people with underlying health conditions. Protecting those at highest risk of complications and ensuring that our healthcare system is prepared to deal with a surge in cases is our highest priority. It is imperative that everyone takes precautions to protect themselves and their family from this disease.”
Banner Health has set up a hotline at 1-844-549-1851 to answer COVID-19 questions. Call between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.
A total of 508 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Arizona on Thursday, March 25, according to the morning report from the Arizona Department of Health Services. That's a jump of 107 from yesterday's 401.
There are now 75 confirmed cases in Pima County.
The virus has killed 8 people in Arizona, including a Pima County woman in her 50s who had underlying health conditions.
In Maricopa County, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen to 299, with 48 more cases being reported than yesterday.
Health and government officials have urged the public to avoid unnecessary trips and gatherings of more than 10 people. They warn that the extremely contagious virus is rapidly spreading in the community. Symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear, so people can pass COVID-19 without realizing they have been infected with it. Some people remain entirely asymptotic but are carriers.
As COVID-19 has spread, local and state officials limited restaurants to take-out and delivery services in counties where cases of the virus have been confirmed. The Pima County Board of Supervisors is set to vote today to extend that closure through April 10 - more details on that when they become available. Here’s a parital list of restaurants that are offering take-out and delivery services.
In the face of the spreading virus, Gov. Doug Ducey halted to evictions for 120 days; ordered bars, gyms and theaters to be closed in any county with confirmed COVID-19 cases; halted all elective surgery to keep hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients; loosened regulations to make telemedicine more available and increase eligibility for AHCCCS, the state's Medicaid program; and activated the National Guard to assist in grocery stores as Arizonans clear the shelves.
COVID-19 symptoms typically occur two to 14 days after exposure, and include headache, fever, cough, and shortness of breath, according to the CDC. However, some cases of the virus are entirely asymptomatic. Practices to avoid infection include social distancing (of at least six feet), washing your hands, avoiding unnecessary trips and not touching your face. COVID-19 can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on stainless steel and plastic surfaces up to three days.
If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, speak with a healthcare provider for medical advice. According to the CDC, people who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Stay at home and avoid public transportation, but stay in touch with your doctor. If you do leave your home, wear a facemask and clean your hands often. If you develop more severe symptoms (persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, bluish lips) get medical attention immediately. Your local health authorities will give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.
Have you caught COVID-19? Are you feeling ill? Is your small business struggling to make it? Have you lost your job as a result of the outbreak? Are you struggling to manage your kids while schools are closed? Tell us your COVID-19 stories. Send an email or photo to email@example.com.