Arizona is bracing for a spike in hospitalizations as the wave of COVID-19 cases moves west.
"We have started to see COVID hospitalizations pick up again," said Dr. Marjorie Bessel, with Banner Health.
Medical experts predict Arizona will not reach the peak until February. The state expects it to be so bad, it's requested federal government help with paramedics and testing supplies.
"Nearly a third of our inpatient beds are now occupied by COVID or suspected COVID patients. Roughly 90% of those COVID patients are unvaccinated," said Dr. Michael White, with Valleywise Health.
On Thursday, the pandemic death toll hit a grim milestone in Arizona — 25,000 deaths statewide.
Staff infected with COVID created shortages and forced Banner Health — the state's largest hospital network — to temporarily close urgent care locations.
In Phoenix, Valleywise Health is also already feeling the strain.
"You know, 15 to 20 nurses short per shift," White said.
The hospital network had to open extra beds to care for the increase in COVID-19 patients.
Arizona is one of six states already receiving federal help and now, neighboring New Mexico has been added to the list.
In a controversial move, Arizona is one of three states where employees are being asked to keep working if they test positive for the virus but are symptom free.