Tim Steller Column: As Virus Rises, Internet Epidemiologists Dominate Cochise County | Local News

“The biggest issues we’re seeing in our hospitals are, No. 1, staffing,” Thompson, the county health director, told me on Friday. “One of our hospitals had like 51 of its caregivers discharged with COVID. Just being able to staff the beds was really a challenge.

In Sierra Vista, “Canyon Vista (the hospital) hasn’t been below 100% capacity in weeks,” she said. “In their emergency department, they have well over 100% capacity.”

The state grant could have helped hospitals in the northern part of the county, in particular, because it would have allowed the county to set up free testing sites, Thompson said. This would prevent people from going to the crowded hospitals, where they have been, for tests.

English said the board has a policy of not reversing previous decisions, which means it’s unlikely to follow Pinal County’s lead and accept the grant later.

Meanwhile, the deaths continue. The tally was up to 494 on Saturday, leaving a death rate from COVID-19 of 378 per 100,000 people, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. 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 happening in a county that lost 4.5% of its population between the 2010 and 2020 censuses.

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