Mississippi, Wisconsin, Oklahoma among the 6 states where intensive care beds are running out as COVID hospital stays increase


While new cases of the novel coronavirus continue to be diagnosed in the U.S. at record rates, serious outbreaks are occurring in several states and healthcare systems are struggling to meet patient demand. Hospital data showed that about 15 percent of intensive care unit (ICU) beds remained unfilled in six states on Thursday, while COVID-19 infections were increasingly reported last month.

Mississippi faces an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations approaching the peak levels reported at the height of the summer outbreak resurgence. Data updated Thursday by the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) confirmed that intensive care beds are scarce throughout the state, with only 106 of the total 888 beds available. About 20 percent of Mississippi’s intensive care beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients.

The intensive care units in Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, reached their maximum capacity on Thursday. State Health Commissioner Thomas Dobbs spread the news on Twitter, along with a chart that graphically depicts Mississippi’s intensive care units over the past five months. While the number of COVID-19 patients currently admitted to ICUs remained lower than during most of July and August, the total number of intensive care patients in Mississippi reached a new high in November.

“Zero beds in the intensive care unit in Jackson. Very few elsewhere,” Dobbs subtitled the tweet. “Please protect yourself and your family.”

Zero beds in the intensive care unit in Jackson. Very few elsewhere.

Please protect yourself and your family. pic.twitter.com/08CxKh6Jzd

– thomas dobbs (@TCBPubHealth) November 12, 2020

In Wisconsin, where the incidence of new COVID-19 cases diagnosed per day has increased by more than 450 percent since the second week of September, only 10 percent of the state’s intensive care beds were available on Wednesday. The bed capacity of the state’s general hospital also approached 90 percent, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health. The number of intensive care beds and regular beds occupied by COVID-19 patients has steadily increased in recent weeks. On Monday, about 20 percent of COVID-19 patients admitted to intensive care units throughout Wisconsin were hospitalized.

Oklahoma ICU bed occupancy was about 97 percent on Thursday, according to the COVID Act Now, a nonprofit organization that catalogs outbreak trends in each state. Both hospitalization and ICU admissions related to COVID-19 reached record levels in Oklahoma on Wednesday and have been rising steadily for more than a month. In Tulsa, hospitals ran out of intensive care beds earlier this week.

The medical facilities in Montana have also reached their maximum capacity for intensive care patients. In South Dakota, which last week reported one of the highest rates of new COVID-19 cases per capita in the U.S., ICU bed occupancy exceeded 80 percent of the total number of beds available in the state. In Idaho, data released by the state’s public health department showed that fewer than 100 ICU beds were still available on Wednesday.

The most recent ICU occupancy statistics published by health officials in Indiana and Ohio this week approached 80 percent as more and more COVID 19 patients are hospitalized and admitted to ICUs in both states.

Meanwhile, health authorities in other states, such as Nebraska, have warned that hospitals will have difficulty meeting patient needs if the current outbreak trends continue. The Nebraska Department of Health reported that about 25 percent of the state’s hospital beds and 30 percent of intensive care beds were still available on Thursday.


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