Latest COVID-19 model shows Arizona can meet a health care surge

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services provided an update May 26 on the capacity of the state health care system. (Community Impact staff)
Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services provided an update May 26 on the capacity of the state health care system. (Community Impact staff)

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services provided an update May 26 on the capacity of the state health care system. (Community Impact staff)

Arizona's current resources, including inpatient beds, intensive care unit beds and ventilators, are sufficient to meet a health care surge due to COVID-19, according to a recent predictive model, said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, in a May 26 blog post.

"In April, our federal partners from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) shared the modeling they had built for Arizona based on projection formulas developed by Johns Hopkins University," Christ wrote. "This federal model takes into account the current data from the state as well as the mitigation strategies Arizona has put into place. This model is updated regularly and is the tool the federal government is using when determining resource allocations on a national level."

As of May 25, ADHS reported that 1,988 COVID-19 cases in Arizona have required hospitalization—12% of the state's total case count. Additionally, 81% of the state's ICU beds were in use as of May 26, with 428 beds available and 1,838 in use. The state also reported that 40% of available emergency room beds are in use, and 79% of inpatient beds are in use. There are 582 ventilators in use across the state with 1,202 available as of May 25, according to state data.

This model previously predicted the state's peak resources utilization to occur around June 11, according to Christ, with the assumption that the state's mitigation strategies would be lifted April 30 at the end of the stay-at-home order. The order was later extended through May 15.

"The most recent model, dated May 4th, predicts even with the mitigation strategies lifted, that our current resources, including inpatient beds, ICU beds, and ventilators, are sufficient to meet a health care surge due to COVID-19," Christ wrote.


In February and March, the Arizona Department of Health Services developed an initial Arizona projection, which estimated that 13,000 additional inpatient beds and 1,500 additional CU beds would be needed to care for Arizonans with COVID-19, with peak resource needs falling between the middle to end of April, Christ wrote.

"While the models may try to predict what lies ahead, they are simply predictions. As you can see, the model projections continue to vary widely and are highly sensitive to any mitigation strategies," Christ wrote. "ADHS uses the models to identify potential resource needs. All of our efforts to date have allowed our health care system to increase resource capacity to meet Arizona’s health care needs. As our data evolves, so will our response. Moving forward, the best course of action is to continue using all of our real-time, Arizona-specific data that anyone can access on our website to assess the health of our health care system and evaluate the trend of our cases to continue making decisions that are best for Arizona."

Alexa D' Angelo