Arizona hospitals see rise in pediatric COVID-19 cases amid nursing shortage

Banner Health, the Valley's largest hospital network, says the number of COVID-19 patients continues to increase exponentially in the state while they remain short on nurses.

Officials have also raised concerns about a sharp increase in the number of children being hospitalized with the virus.

During the first two weeks of August, officials say they had a total of 71 pediatric COVID-19 patients - that was the number of total pediatric patients they treated in the entire month of July.

MORE: Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers

As of Aug. 18, 41 pediatric patients are being treated, but have not needed ICU care or ventilators.

Hospital officials say 94% of hospitalized patients have not been vaccinated.

Banner Health also has more than a thousand vacant nursing positions that need to be filled. Recently, a shortage of ICU nurses at Banner University's Cardiac Cath Lab prompted them to divert patients to other hospitals.

Additionally, Valleywise Health announced Wednesday that they could not open their psychiatric wing because of a shortage of nurses.

"The number of bedside teams willing to work has diminished, that pool has diminished," said Dr. Michael White with Valleywise Health, adding, "I’m short 22 nurses this morning."

Valleywise Health says it has more than 400 positions open across its organization and is recruiting for 160 nursing positions.

To keep up with the demand, they are bringing in traveling nurses to cover for the short term.

"If people were to come in a hospital bed and we don’t have a team member that is able to take care of them, we have to look and work within our health care org in the community to be able to find care for that individual," White explained.

Read the latest update from Banner Health here:

MAP: Arizona Coronavirus cases by zip code

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