'The situation is grim': Coronavirus surge overwhelms hospitals in Cochise County

A surge of COVID-19 cases is overwhelming hospitals in southeastern Arizona.

Cochise County said Wednesday that its hospitals were low on resources, struggling with nurse shortages and that patients without COVID-19 were facing long waits to be transferred to larger hospitals for higher levels of care.

Patients without COVID-19 are facing waits of 48 to 96 hours to be transferred to large hospitals in Tucson.

"The situation is grim," said Cochise County Health Director, Alicia M. Thompson. "Every person in our community who has chosen not to be vaccinated can help by knowing how to stay out of the Emergency Room. When you are diagnosed with COVID-19, ask your Primary Care Provider about receiving one of the therapeutics to keep you from experiencing severe disease. Don’t wait until you are so sick you have to go to the ER," added Thompson. "Get the treatment as soon as possible after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Our hospitals are at the tipping point and need our residents’ help to avoid having to go to crisis standards of care. Please do your part."

Earlier this week, hospital leaders and public health officials across Arizona pleaded for people to get vaccinated and take other precautions avoid spreading the coronavirus and not overwhelm the state’s health care system.

Many hospitals are crowded with virus patients as well as others being treated for non-COVID conditions.

On Nov. 25, Arizona reported 3,349 new COVID-19 cases and 75 deaths from the virus.

In all, 1,255,597 confirmed cases and 22,173 deaths from the virus have been reported in the state since the pandemic began.

MORE: Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers


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

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.

More COVID-19 in Arizona news

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