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Despite COVID-19 Surge Northern Arizona Hospitals Not Near Crisis Levels


Officials at Northern Arizona Healthcare, the largest hospital system in the region, are reporting a surge in COVID-19 cases. But they say they’re not near crisis levels and have enough staff to handle increase. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Flagstaff Medical Center is operating near 80% capacity, and Coconino County residents make up a majority of COVID-19 patients there. Earlier in the pandemic most were from the Navajo Nation, where cases are currently flattening.

Meanwhile, NAH officials say there were no positive cases weeks ago at the Verde Valley Medical Center in Sedona. But they’re now treating dozens of patients and the hospital, which is also operating close to 80%. NAH officials say a senior living facility in Cottonwood has been a recent coronavirus hot spot.

Sixteen NAH employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

Arizona health officials have reported an alarming rise in known cases statewide during the last month. Coconino County had its highest weekly positive count last week at 276 with more than 1,800 total infections since the outbreak began.

NAH officials expect to be treating significant levels of COVID-19 patients for at least the next six weeks.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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