As new Covid-19 infections increase nationwide, some communities are facing a looming hospital capacity crunch, with open space in intensive care units falling below 10% in six states.
Almost 78% of beds in U.S. hospital intensive care units are in use, and roughly one-third of adult ICU patients (or 22,345) have the coronavirus, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Alabama has the nation’s worst capacity crunch, with HHS reporting more ICU patients than total beds — health officials said Alabama ran out of ICU capacity Wednesday and dozens of patients were forced to wait for space, as the state grapples with the country’s eighth-highest Covid-19 infection rate (cases have dropped off slightly in the last week).
Texas reported ICU usage of 92.7%, and Dallas-area hospitals warned Thursday that if their region runs out of intensive care beds, they may need to consider vaccination status when prioritizing who to treat.
Kentucky is using 90.7% of its ICU beds, and Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday every hospital bed in the state may be taken up in the next two weeks.
ICU occupancy is above 80% in 10 other states: Louisiana (89.3%), Missouri (88.9%), Oklahoma (87.9%), Arkansas (87.4%), Nevada (85.4%), North Carolina (84.8%), South Carolina (83.8%), New Mexico (83.6%), Idaho (82.7%) and Maine (80.4%).
Hospital admissions have risen nationwide in recent weeks. An average of 11,521 new Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospitals every day in the week ending Tuesday, up 48% in two weeks, according to the CDC. Daily hospitalizations are still below their early January peak, when more than 16,000 Americans entered hospitals with the coronavirus every day.
Coronavirus infections have spiked across the United States in recent weeks due to the virus’ more contagious delta variant, driving up hospitalizations in much of the country. States with low uptake of Covid-19 vaccines — which reduce the risk of infection and severe illness from Covid-19 — are especially hard-hit. Some 60.2% of Americans are at least partially vaccinated against coronavirus, but out of the six states with the worst ICU capacity issues, only one — Florida — has topped 60%.
Alabama Overtakes Florida, Leads Nation In Child Covid-19 Hospitalizations After Admissions Jump 300% In One Week (Forbes)