“The main issues we see in our hospitals are primarily staffing,” Thompson, the county health director, told me on Friday. “One of our hospitals had about 51 of its caregivers with COVID. Just staffing the beds was really a challenge.”
In Sierra Vista, “Canyon Vista (hospital) hasn’t been below 100% occupancy in weeks,” she said. “They are well over 100% utilized in their ER.”
The state grant could have helped hospitals in the northern portion of the county, particularly because it would have allowed the county to set up free testing sites, Thompson said. That would discourage people from going to the crowded hospitals they went to for tests.
English said the board has a policy of not reversing previous decisions, meaning it’s unlikely to follow Pinal County’s lead in accepting the grant later.
Meanwhile, the deaths continue. The number rose to 494 on Saturday, putting the death rate from COVID-19 at 378 per 100,000 people, according to the Arizona Department of Health. That’s higher than the statewide rate of 349 per 100,000, which is the second highest rate among all states.
All of this is taking place in a county that lost 4.5% of its population between the 2010 and 2020 censuses.