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COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in Arizona

Dr. Michael White
Katherine Davis-Young/KJZZ
Dr. Michael White, chief clinical officer of Valleywise Health.

COVID-19 ICU bed use in Arizona is now at the  highest level since mid-February. And health care leaders in the state continue to warn that hospitals are dangerously close to capacity.

Dr. Michael White, chief clinical officer of Valleywise Health, told reporters Wednesday that the vast majority of recent COVID-19 patients in his ICU have been unvaccinated and many have been between 20 and 40 years-old.

“We continue to see people who are very ill," White said. "We’re having younger and younger people again wind up on our ventilators, wind up in our ICUs, critically ill from COVID-19 disease.”

The first known U.S. case of the concerning omicron variant was detected Wednesday in California. The omicron variant has yet to be detected in Arizona, but White said for now, Arizonans need to do what they can to protect themselves against the widespread delta variant. He said that includes  getting vaccinated, getting a booster shot, and wearing a mask in public.

“We know, no matter the variant, these are the things that will help us reduce the burden, reduce the resource utilization around these COVID-19 disease patients,” White said.  

→  Q&AZ: What you need to know about getting the coronavirus vaccine in Arizona

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent. She has produced work for NPR, New England Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, PRI's The World, Washington Post, Reuters and more.She has a master’s degree in radio journalism from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism.She lives in central Phoenix with her husband, two daughters, and ill-behaved cat and dog. Her side-passions include photography, crosswords and hot sauce.