Tim Stellers column: As virus surges, internet epidemiologists hold sway in Cochise County – Arizona Daily Star

“The main problems that we’re seeing in our hospitals are, No. 1, staffing,” Thompson, the county health director, told me Friday. “One of our hospitals had like 51 of their caregivers out with COVID. Being able to just staff the beds has been really a challenge.”

In Sierra Vista, “Canyon Vista (hospital) has not been below 100% capacity in weeks,” she said. “In their ED, they’re well over 100% capacity.”

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

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

Meanwhile, deaths are continuing. The count was up to 494 on Saturday, which leaves 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 taking place in a county that lost 4.5% of its population between the 2010 and 2020 censuses.