Second Wave: PCHD preparing as COVID-19 cases soar

COVID travel restrictions

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Experts warn the second wave of the coronavirus is here. On Thursday, Nov. 19, the Arizona Department of Health Services recorded more than 4,100 new cases in the state. 601 of those cases were in Pima County; a daily total only beat once when the county reached 639 cases at the end of July.

“They are staggering numbers, they create a workload within public health that we have never seen before,” said Louie Valenzuela, the Emergency Preparedness Manager for Pima County. “Traditionally speaking with pandemics, the second wave - the second spikes - are just as bad, maybe even worse, than the first. Healthcare workers are so critical right now, we are doing everything we can to ensure their safety.”

Valenzuela says that includes stockpiling personal protective equipment.

“We keep gowns, we keep gloves, we keep face shields, we keep protective goggles, we have gone into some specialty hospital equipment like ventilators,” he said. “We knew what the requests [would be] because of the first spike. It’s easier to access some of these materials, so I think over all we are in a better position.”

A better position for what’s likely inevitable.

“We know the spike is going to come,” said Valenzuela. “But if we can lessen the effect … we can sustain our healthcare infrastructure.”

The Centers for Disease Control is advising people not to travel over the Thanksgiving weekend. If you do decide to drive or fly, the CDC suggests researching the restrictions and the infection rate of the community you are heading to. It’s also asking travelers to always wear a mask, wash their hands and keep a safe distance from others inside airports.

“Tracking where you go and who you’re around is a fantastic measure,” Valenzuela said.

The CDC also encourages people to host virtual Thanksgiving dinners and to do their holiday shopping online.

“We don’t want people shop and then rid the shelves of equipment and materials that everyone is going to need,” Valenzuela said. “[By taking these mitigation steps,] maybe we will be in a good position by Christmas time where we can expand out a little bit.”

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