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PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Medical Association on Friday pleaded with residents to get vaccinated and boosted and take other protective steps against the coronavirus, saying that the state's health care system “is buckling under the weight" of the current surge of infections.“Experts are forecasting the current surge has not yet peaked, and our healthcare system cannot take much more,” the statewide physician group's president, Dr. Miriam Anand, said in a statement. “Patients could inevitably be turned away, unable to find the care they so desperately need."Arizona’s seven-day rolling average of daily new known and confirmed coronavirus cases has quintupled in the past two weeks, rising from 2,953.6 on Dec. 29 to 16,099.3 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Experts believe the surge is linked to the omicron variant, which spreads even more easily than other coronavirus strains. It also more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or had previously been infected by prior versions of the virus.Hub peek embed (Coronaviruspandemic) - Compressed layout (automatic embed)However, early studies show omicron is less likely to cause severe illness than the previous delta variant, and vaccination and a booster still offer strong protection from serious illness, hospitalization and death.Nevertheless, the sheer number of new cases is taking its toll on hospitals.The Arizona Medical Association said the large increase in COVID-19 cases “is placing a tremendous strain on our health care system," resulting in record numbers of visits to hospitals' emergency departments.With hospitals statewide full or nearly so, ”due to limited capacity and staffing, hospitals are being forced in and out of crisis standards of care, meaning staff must make harrowing decisions about which patients they will be able to treat,” the group's statement said.“As medical professionals invested in Arizonans’ health, we are pleading with the public to receive the COVID-19...
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