Letter from Arizona: Hospitals are experiencing an increase in coronavirus cases, while outdoor life continues normally

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Arizona – Walking the streets of Tucson or Phoenix can give the impression that the pandemic never existed in Arizona.

People continue their activities as usual and the construction of the border wall on the southern border with Mexico seems to be gaining momentum.

President Donald Trump visited the state this week for a rally in a private church in the north of the city, attended by thousands of young people, few of whom wore masks. It marked the completion of the 200th mile from the border wall at Yuma.
And that’s part of the problem, say health workers. More and more people must wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.


While restaurants and bars have generally followed protocols, life goes on as usual here.

While restaurants, bars and hair salons have generally followed the protocols, life goes on as usual here. Example: the state does not require masks to be worn in public, while many cities, including Phoenix, have adopted their own mask requirement.

The rapid relaxation of home care orders may have influenced the new outbreak. Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, reopened hair salons and salons on May 8. Starting May 11, Arizona restaurants were allowed to re-offer food services.
Scenes inside many state hospitals tell a different story, as medical staff work desperately to care for the growing number of coronavirus patients.
State hospitals on Friday activated their emergency plans to deal with the growing number of coronavirus patients.
“When we opened our state, people started interacting with each other without practicing physical distance or wearing face masks as recommended by the CDC,” said Christian Bime, who is the head of the care division. at the Banner University Medical Center in Tucson, in the southern part of the state. “Naturally, you can expect more infections this way,” he said.

Maria Singleton, a Samaritan volunteer from Ajo, Pima County: “Construction on the wall sped up in February. This coincided with the arrival of COVID-19. “

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“These are things that happen once in a lifetime”

When Bime moved from Cameroon, Africa, Michigan to the United States, years ago, he never imagined that he would have to wake up every day at 4 a.m. to deal with a pandemic by as a primary care doctor in Arizona.
“These are things that happen once in a lifetime,” said Bime, who is the head of the lung care division at the Banner University Medical Center in Tucson, in the southern state.
The United States reached its highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases out of 40,135 on Friday, Arizona, reported 3,428 new cases, according to the Arizona Health Services Database.


On Friday, Arizona, the United States reached its highest number of coronavirus cases in a single day, with 40,135 cases.

Along with Florida and Texas, some refer to Arizona as one of the pioneers to become the new New York, as the new epicenter of the virus.
“The main problem we face is the increase in the number of patients we admit to our hospitals, especially in the intensive care unit, in the past few weeks,” said Bime.
Together with his colleagues, he works every day from dawn to sunset and late into the evening to treat as many patients as possible.
“In an ordinary situation, some patients are very sick and others less sick. With the coronavirus, almost all of them in the intensive care unit need a ventilator, “says Bime, while sharing a glimmer of optimism:” The positive thing is that so far, we have enough fans. “
On Friday, 86% of current hospital beds and 88% of intensive care beds were in use in Arizona, far more than the usual occupancy rate compared to 62% and 68% respectively before the first wave of coronavirus reached Arizona in late March, according to the Arizona Department of Healthcare Services database.
And Pima County, where Bime Hospital is located, is the second hardest-hit county in the state, with more than 6,800 positive cases and at least 266 deaths. While the statewide hospitalization rate is 7%, Pima County has 670 of the 4,514 hospitalizations.
This cycle of infection is different from the first wave of coronavirus cases in April and May, Bime said: “Now we also hospitalize young people with serious illnesses, in the range of 40 to 60 years. “

Arizona is one of 19 states where the trend for new coronavirus cases continues to increase. Pictured: Starbucks in downtown Arrowhead in Glendale, Arizona on June 20.

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“The construction of the wall accelerated in February”

Pima County is one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, according to the Arizona Department Healthcare Services database.
“Construction of the wall sped up in February. This coincided with the arrival of COVID-19, “said Maria Singleton, a Samaritan volunteer from Ajo, Pima County.
She also has a unique perspective on the wall. On November 9, 1989, she witnessed the collapse of the Berlin Wall in Europe, where she lived.
Now she is witnessing the construction of a new wall and the start of a new pandemic.
She is part of a group of volunteers who organize weekly activities to rescue and assist migrants crossing the border, visit the border at least once a week and have observed the increase in the number of trucks.


On November 9, 1989, Maria Singleton witnessed the collapse of the Berlin Wall in Europe, where she lived.

Singleton lives on a street that leads to the national park near the border. We spent an hour on his street and watched the trucks head towards the border. Locals on Facebook
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shared Singleton’s concerns about the influx of workers.
Ajo is one of the poorest cities in Arizona. Households here have a median annual income of $ 33,178, nearly half the median annual income of $ 61,937 in the United States, according to the US Census Bureau.
“The virus has hit poor communities and the elderly hard, and Ajo is one of them,” said Singleton. His house is not far from the historic center of Ajo. The number of trucks she saw driving south to build the border wall and the number of coronavirus cases have both increased in recent weeks, she said.
“We have a small clinic here, but for the most part, people have to go to Phoenix or Tucson if they want to go to the hospital. The outskirts of Phoenix are 90 miles away, “says Singleton.
When she moved to Ajo, she imagined living in a quiet place. “Now I’m at the epicenter of everything,” she says.
Singleton and other residents are concerned about the presence of so many workers coming to Ajo from across the United States. “When they are in town, they never wear masks,” she adds.
In a small village surrounded by mountains and kissed by the sun in Arizona near New Mexico and far from Ajo and the southern border, Leonela Nelson, 36, Navajo who works as coordinator of the research program at the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, and his family have managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic.
“The majority of the epidemic is in big cities a few hours from here,” she said. “When, in April, I saw the queues outside the few grocery stores we have, I was afraid.”
But the Navajo Nation, a Native American territory covering more than 17 million acres between Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, struggled to contain the pandemic, which caused 7,320 cases and 350 deaths.
“What is the CDC’s first recommendation on the new coronavirus?” ” Wash one’s hands. “Across the nation, about 30 percent of people don’t even have running water,” says Nelson.
At the height of the epidemic inside the reserve, the Navajo Nation government intensified testing and tracing and embarked on an education campaign focused on coronaviruses.
The sign Dikos Ntsaaígíí-Náhást’éíts’áadah, which means COVID-19 in the Navajo language, was everywhere, in the tiny Teec Nos Pos.
“My aunt caught the coronavirus and spent weeks in the hospital,” says Nelson. Her aunt is in her mid-60s and she had no pre-existing medical conditions, but it took almost a month before she recovered.
Nelson stopped by his house almost every day to check that everything was still in order. “She is doing better now, even though it was a difficult time for my family,” she said.
Bime, meanwhile, wakes up thinking of patients like Nelson’s aunt every morning in Tucson. He is optimistic that they will make it, but he is less sure how long it will take.
“The biggest challenge we face in intensive care units is that we can’t let families see the patients in person,” he says. Sometimes front-line workers have to replace the physical connection between them.
“With one hand you have the smartphone with Facetime
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and with the other, you hold the patients’ hands as if you were a family member. “


Governor Doug Ducey allowed each city in Arizona to create their own policies on face coverage and application requirements on Wednesday.

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