Gov. Ducey issues executive order to increase hospital preparedness as COVID-19 cases grow

Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at a news conference on COVID-19 on March 2, 2020.

Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order Thursday morning requiring hospitals to increase hospital bed capacity, optimize staffing and "maximize critical resources," according to a statement from Ducey's office.

Hospitals are now required to re-route non-critical patients to other providers, increase bed capacity by 50% by April 24, and put into place plans to optimize their staffing in preparation for a growing number of coronavirus cases. Cases are expected to peak in May.

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“Arizona is working day and night to ensure our hospitals are prepared while implementing measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible,” said Governor Ducey in the statement. “Building additional capacity now, ahead of any increased demand is the responsible thing to do." 

The order also requires pediatric hospitals to accept patients up to 21 years of age.

“As public health officials, we have a responsibility to prepare for the worst-case scenario to plan for a pandemic,” said Dr. Cara Christ, Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services in the statement. “In Arizona, we are fortunate to have time to prepare, and we have a responsibility to bring additional hospital beds online, find needed supplies and identify critical equipment, including ventilators. We’re focused on working to make sure hospitals across the state build their capacity.”