Department of Health and Human Services data reported by the New York Times has detailed average U.S. hospital and ICU bed occupancy rates for the week ending December 03. It paints an extremely disturbing picture of health system that is buckling under the strain of the pandemic in some parts of the country. Current hospital capacity stands at 59 percent while ICU occupancy is 72 percent, with both figures climbing steadly. The numbers are already significantly higher than that in some parts of the country. 2,200 counties were included in the analysis and the average hospital is 90 percent in 126 of them and well above that in some countries in Kentucky, Georgia, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Texas.
According to the dataset, ICU bed capacity is already at or above 100 percent in 113 hospital service areas with the highest occupancy rate seen in Cullman, Alabama, at 131 percent. It also looked at how things are developing in areas with a high population, an ominous trend which is illustrated on this map. There are zero ICU beds available in Albuquerque, for example, which has an occupancy rate of 116 percent. In Baton Rouge, that figure is 106 percent while it stands at 107 percent in Ogden, Utah. The New York Times described the situation in El Paso as marginally better with 13 free ICU beds out of 400 in total, which still makes for an occupancy rate of 95 percent.
More than a third of Americans now live in areas that are running critically short of free ICU beds and that hospitals serving 100 million people reported fewer than 15 available intensive care beds at theend of last week. The situation is worse in some places, however, particularly acrossa swathe of Midwest, South and Southwest. One in 10 people in those areas live in an area where ICU beds are completely full or 95 percent full. The disturbing hospital-level data comes as the U.S. registered more than 3,00 deaths in 24 hours for the first time. With an FDA panel meeting to consider approving Pfizer's vaccine, there is some badly needed hope on the horizon.