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Banner Health Official: Please Be Cautious This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost here and despite warnings from health officials, many Americans are still choosing to travel. That leaves Arizona hospital workers bracing for a possible surge in COVID-19 patients.

Banner Health held a press conference Tuesday to discuss capacity and staffing. Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel urged people to be cautious this holiday.

“The safest place for everybody during Thanksgiving is at home with your family and friends that you live with," she said. "Every time you invite one other person, you are increasing your risk.”

Visitor restrictions are in place at hospitals to limit risk for both patients and workers. Bessel said their forecasting paints a dark picture for the winter.

“Our tool shows that we’ll get above 125% of our licensed bed capacity starting about Dec. 4," Bessel said, "and that we will continue that for some extended period of time.”

Banner and other hospital groups are trying to bolster staff by hiring traveling nurses, training existing staff to work in intensive care units and bringing back recent retirees.

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Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.