PHOENIX - A shuttered hospital in Phoenix will reopen as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to Gov. Doug Ducey.
As of Thursday morning, there are 3,018 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arizona, with 89 deaths.
During a news conference at the site of the former Phoenix St. Luke's Hospital, Gov. Ducey announced that the former hospital will reopen with 339 ICU high-acuity beds.
"These beds will provide additional surge capacity for hospitals in Maricopa County, meaning if they need it, St. Luke's will relieve additional overflow that could come in the weeks ahead, with additional beds for patients that need an ICU," said Gov. Ducey.
Construction is currently underway with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, according to Gov. Ducey, and the beds will be made available in three weeks, which will coincide with a projected peak in hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
Current projections indicate that peak COVID-19 hospitalizations could come in mid-April to late April.
"Our hope is to never have to use these beds," Gov. Ducey said.
As for staffing the hospital, it could be a mix.
“What kind of staffing they would need, what kind of help they’d need from our registry of volunteers, the national guard. We don’t want to pull from our other hospitals,” said Dr. Cara Christ with the Arizona Department of Health Services.
St. Luke's Hospital in Phoenix closed in November. At the time, hospital officials say their occupancy rate has been below 40%, and emergency department visits have been decreasing over the past two years.
"The trend is clear: many St. Luke’s patients and community members have decided to go to other health care facilities for their medical needs," said President of St. Luke's Medical Center, James Flinn, at the time the closure was announced.
During the news conference, Gov. Ducey also announced a number of other efforts to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
Online SNAP Purchases
Gov. Ducey said the state has received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow those currently receiving food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to use benefits for online food purchases with currently-authorized SNAP online retailers.
Officials with the Governor's Office say Walmart and Amazon are the two authorized retailers.
Internet Hotspot Donation
Gov. Ducey said the state has launched a Mobile Hotspot Donation Drive to help K-12 students without home internet to access online lessons during the pandemic.
The Arizona Department of Administration has offered more than 200 hotspots across state government to offer to students.
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In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends:
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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.
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