COVID-19 Surge Overwhelms Hospitals Nationwide

Kimberly Redmond  |

Video source: YouTube, ABC News

The latest COVID-19 outbreak continues to overwhelm the US healthcare system, with a growing number of states running out of capacity to treat patients severely ill from the virus.

Altogether, more than 100,000 people in the country are hospitalized for coronavirus, the highest number of since January, before vaccines were widely available to the public and before the emergence of the highly-transmissible Delta variant. 

Nationally, 79.65% of intensive care unit (ICU) beds are occupied, with 30.08% of beds — almost 25,000 — filled with a confirmed coronavirus patient, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The latest federal data shows that states in the South and Northwest are seeing worse rates than ever before.

In Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oregon and Washington, new admissions of COVID-19 patients are at the highest levels since the onset of the pandemic last year.

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At least four states — Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas — had less than 10% of intensive care unit (ICU) beds available as of Thursday, according to HHS.

Earlier this week, Arkansas and Alabama officials said that their states were completely out of ICU beds, while Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said that record coronavirus hospitalizations were forcing some hospitals to convert space to treat the influx of ICU patients.

“Our hospitalizations have been doubling just about every two weeks," Beshear said. "We are getting really close to every single bed across the entire commonwealth that we can staff being full."

In Florida, more than 95% of ICU beds are full and nearly 50 hospitals have reported critical staffing shortages. 

Idaho, Nevada and Illinois are also nearing ICU capacity limits.  

Hospitals are also grappling with a surge in severely ill COVID-19 patients, almost all of whom are unvaccinated. 

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 51.9% of the US population is fully vaccinated with 61% having received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

Public health experts have expressed concern that current wave in hospitalizations could cause the nation’s health care system to buckle. Besides dealing with mounting COVID-19 cases, hospitals are also facing staff shortages due to burnout.

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