According to data by the Department of Health and Human Services, 19 U.S. states currently have free ICU hospital bed capacities diminished to 15 percent or less. In five states – Texas, Alabama, Rhode Island, New Mexico and Missouri – the average free capacity was at 10 percent or lower as of Thursday. Texas had the fewest free ICU beds available at around 7 percent. As seen in the data, Southern and Midwestern states have been disproportionately affected.
Infections with the coronavirus have been soaring to new heights in the United States. More than 5.5 million new cases were registered in the past seven days – by far surpassing all previous records – as the Omicron variant is making the rounds. The number of people hospitalized with coronavirus likewise hit new heights, surpassing 150,000 this week. Experts suspect that the more contagious variant will cause a smaller share of the infected to require ICU care, but considering the immense numbers, this group still consists of a lot of people.
In many hard-hit states, confirmed or suspected Covid-19 patients have been filling up around a third of available ICU beds, pushing up ICU utilization significantly. According to CNN, several states are already bracing for impact. Washington has halted nonurgent medical procedures, while Kentucky alerted the National Guard. President Joe Biden announced the deployment of surge teams to six more states. A total of 1,000 military medical personnel could potentially be sent around the country in January and February to help out overburdened hospitals.