Arizona: Walking the streets of Tucson or Phoenix can give the impression that the pandemic never existed in Arizona.
People go about their usual business, and construction on the border wall on the southern border with Mexico seems to be gaining momentum.
President Donald Trump took a trip to the state this week for a demonstration at a private church in the northern part of the city, attended by thousands of young people, few of whom wore masks. It marked the completion of mile 200 of the border wall in Yuma.
And that’s part of the problem, health workers say. More people need to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
While restaurants and bars generally followed protocols, life goes on as normal here.
While restaurants, bars, and hair salons generally follow protocols, life goes on as normal here. Case in point: The state does not require masks to be worn in public, while many cities, including Phoenix, have adopted their own mask requirement.
The early relaxation of orders to stay home may have influenced the new wave of cases. Republican Governor Doug Ducey allowed the hairdressers and salons to reappear on May 8. Beginning May 11, Arizona restaurants were again allowed to offer dinner services.
The scenes inside many of the state’s hospitals tell a different story, as medical personnel desperately work to care for the growing number of coronavirus patients.
On Friday, hospitals across the state activated their emergency plans to deal with the surge in 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 Division of Lung Care at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Banner in Tucson, in the southern part of the state. “Naturally, you can expect more infections this way,” he says.
‘These are things that happen once in a lifetime’
When Bime moved from Cameroon, in Africa, to Michigan in the United States, years ago, he never imagined that he would have to get up at 4 in the morning every day to face a pandemic as a front-line doctor in Arizona.
“These are things that happen once in a lifetime,” says Bime, who is the head of the Lung Care division at Banner University Medical Center in Tucson, in the southern part of the state.
The United States reached its highest single-day count of confirmed coronavirus cases of 40,135 on Friday, Arizona reported 3,428 new cases, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services database.
The United States reached its highest single-day count of 40,135 coronavirus cases on Friday, Arizona 3,428 new cases.
Along with Florida and Texas, some refer to Arizona as one of the leading candidates to become New York, as the new epicenter of the virus.
“The main problem we have to face is the increase in patients that we are admitting in our hospitals, especially in the intensive care unit, in the last few weeks,” said Bime.
Together with his colleagues, he works every day, from dawn to dusk, and late into the night, to serve as many patients as possible.
“In an ordinary situation, you may have some patients who are very sick and others who are not so sick. With coronavirus, almost everyone in the intensive care unit needs a ventilator, “says Bime, while sharing a glimpse of optimism:” The positive is that so far we have enough ventilators. “
As of Friday, 86% of current hospital beds and 88% of ICU beds were in use, in Arizona, much more than the usual occupancy rate versus 62% and 68%, respectively, before the first wave of the coronavirus hit Arizona in late March, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services database.
And Pima County, where the Bime hospital is located, is the second most affected county in the state, with more than 6,800 positive cases and at least 266 deaths. If the hospitalization rate is 7% statewide, Pima County has 670 of the 4,514 hospitalizations overall.
This round of infection is different from the first wave of coronavirus cases in April and May, Bime said: “We are now also hospitalizing younger people with serious illnesses, ranging from 40 to 60 years.”
‘Construction of the wall accelerated in February’
Pima County is one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services database.
“The construction of the wall accelerated in February. It coincided with the arrival of COVID-19, ”says Maria Singleton, a Samaritan volunteer from Ajo in 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.
You are now witnessing the construction of a new wall, as well as the outbreak of a new pandemic.
She is part of a group of volunteers who organize weekly activities to rescue and help migrants who cross 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 heading toward the border. Locals on Facebook FB,
They have shared Singleton’s concerns about the influx of workers.
Garlic is one of the poorest cities in Arizona. Households here have an average annual income of $ 33,178, about half the average annual income of $ 61,937 in the United States, according to the United States Census Bureau.
“The virus hit the poor and older communities hard, and Ajo is one of them,” says Singleton. His house is not far from the historic center of Ajo. The number of trucks he has seen driving south to build the border wall and the number of coronavirus cases have increased in recent weeks, he said.
“We have a small clinic here, but for the most part, people have to drive to Phoenix or Tucson if they want to go to hospitals. The outskirts of Phoenix are 90 miles away, “says Singleton.
When he moved to Ajo, he was imagining living in a quiet place. “Now I am at the epicenter of everything,” she says.
Singleton and other residents are concerned about the presence of so many workers who come to Ajo from all over the United States. “When they are in the city, they never wear masks,” he adds.
In a small town surrounded by mountains and kissed by the sun in Arizona, near New Mexico and far from Ajo and the southern border, Leonela Nelson, 36, a Navajo who works as coordinator of the research program at the Johns Hopkins Center for the Health of the American Indians, and his family have managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic.
“Most of the outbreak is in the largest cities within hours of now,” she says. “When I saw the queues outside the few grocery stores we had in April, I was scared.”
But the Navajo Nation, an American Indian territory covering more than 17,000,000 acres between Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, struggled to contain the pandemic, which caused 7,320 cases and 350 deaths.
“What is CDC’s first recommendation on the new coronavirus? ‘Handwashing’. In the nation, about 30% of people don’t even have running water, “says Nelson.
During the peak of the outbreak within the reserve, the Navajo Nation government stepped up testing and tracing and committed to a coronavirus-focused education campaign.
The signal Dikos Ntsaaígíí-Náhást’éíts’áadah, which means COVID-19 in the Navajo language, was everywhere, in the tiny Teec Nos Pos.
“My aunt contracted the coronavirus and spent weeks in the hospital,” says Nelson. Her aunt is in her 60s and had no pre-existing health problems, but it took almost a month for her to recover.
Nelson stopped by his house almost every day to check that everything was still in order. “She is improving now, even though it was a difficult time for my family,” she says.
Bime, meanwhile, wakes up thinking of patients like Nelson’s aunt every morning in Tucson. He is optimistic that they will get through this, but he is not so sure how long that will take.
“The biggest challenge we experience in critical care units is that we cannot allow families to see patients in person,” he says. Sometimes frontline workers have to replace the physical connection between them.
“With one hand, you have the smartphone with Facetime AAPL,
and with the other, you take the hand of the patients as if you were a member of the family. ”