PHOENIX - Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Arizona is the No. 1 COVID-19 hotspot in the country as of Jan. 4.
According to the data, Arizona, in the past seven days, has an average of 121.8 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, ranking number one in the country. In the same data, California comes in second, with an average of 97.1 new cases per 100,000 people, followed by Tennessee with 92.5 new cases per 100,000 people.
When looking strictly at the number of cases that have been reported, Arizona comes in at number five, having reported just over 62,000 cases in the past seven days, with California reporting over 260,000 cases during the same time period.
The numbers come as hospitals across Arizona are running out of ICU beds. According to data reported on Jan. 3 from the Arizona Department of Health Services, the state only has 131 adult ICU beds available.
The state finds itself in familiar but unwelcome territory once again after already having the highest rate of coronavirus cases in the nation in summer 2020.
Doctors say what's happening in Arizona hospitals is not sustainable. Staff members are burning out and they're pleading with the public to make a difference.
Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers
"I'm horrified by the numbers," says Chief Medical Officer for HonorHealth, Dr. Stephanie Jackson, adding that the hospital system is exhausted.
"Right now, we've exceeded the surge that we had this summer and the population of hospitalized patients for our system went up over 20% just within the last week," she said.
Doctors say everyone is impacted. Not only those with worsening COVID-19 symptoms but patients with other urgent medical issues.
Dr. Natasha Bhuyan with One Medical treats patients on a daily basis, and says, "I think the implications are so serious and people need to understand. When we see an increase in cases of COVID, it doesn't just impact people with COVID, it impacts the health of everybody else and that's why we have to take it seriously."
Medical experts are pleading with the public to stay home and socially distance themselves.
"It's alarming and at the same time, it's not surprising because we've been seeing a steep increase in cases," Bhuyan says.
Pima County is seeing records in COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU bed use and the number of ventilators used. In Maricopa County, officials say case numbers from Jan. 1 to 4 will be released in a combined total on Jan. 5.
Jackson says the winter surge is being felt statewide.
"Things are looking pretty tough for the entire Phoenix metro area and really all of the state of Arizona. The hospitals in the Phoenix metro area accept transfers from all across the state," she said.
The focus now is just getting patients through treatment, day-by-day.
Bhuyan again reminds the public that vaccinations for everyone will take several months to complete and it isn't a solution to stop the spread currently.
In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Monitor your health daily
Continuing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic: