ICU beds over 90% capacity, Moderna vaccines around the corner

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There’s good news regarding COVID-19 vaccinations getting underway in Arizona, but the news is not good for the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state. We talked about that with Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association.

Moderna and Pfizer

The Federal Drug Administration’s advisory committee “unanimously recommended emergency use authorization” for Moderna’s vaccine, Humble said. Humble believes the vaccines will become accessible sometime in the next week.

According to Humble, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines share many similarities, but there is a sizeable difference in holding temperatures. The Pfizer vaccines need to be kept at -70 degrees Celsius, but Moderna’s can be kept at a more accessible -20 degrees Celsius. The Moderna vaccine can also be used with smaller doses, Humble said.

92% ICU bed capacity

“We know from what happened over the summer that the honor system doesn’t work,” said Humble of the state’s lack of initiative. “You got to have policies in place to drive the right kind of behavior,” Humble said a safety net funded by the CARES Act should be formed for the people who would be most affected by policy changes.

ICU beds are reporting 92% capacity, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, with more than half of those beds occupied by coronavirus patients. Humble believes this places Arizona in contingency standard of care but may well reach crisis standards after the holiday season. If hospitals become overwhelmed with patients and are unable to treat everyone, hospitals will be forced to follow crisis standards of care: a triage system where treatment is distributed in a thoughtful and methodical way to patients with the highest probability of survival.

“Don’t put yourself or your family in harm’s way,” warned Humble of holiday events.“Stay out of harm’s way.”

Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association

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