TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Flu season is in full swing here in southern Arizona and local hospitals say they are packed.
Officials at Carondelet St. Mary's say they've seen 50 percent more patients this month than usual. Other hospitals around the city are seeing the spike as well.
Staff at Banner University Medical Center say wait times were as long as six hours on Tuesday, Feb. 16. The hospital came off an "internal disaster" around noon on Tuesday. An internal disaster is an event that impairs the operations of the hospital and disrupt normal patient care activities.
As of Wednesday, UMC is in "code purple" because of that surge in patients. Most of them are coming in with the flu or upper respiratory illnesses. Banner UMC has been hit particularly hard and has been on "code purple" since the beginning of this month.
The flu is hitting southern Arizona especially hard this year. Walgreens recently released a flu index that tracks the amount of flu medications its pharmacies are selling.
The index shows that southern Arizona ranked fourth in the country for increased activity this week. The index also measures states and Arizona ranked first in the country for the amount of flu cases.