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Delta variant danger zones: This ICU hospitalizations map shows most vulnerable states

States including Texas, Georgia, and Florida have more than 92% of their ICU beds occupied—and most of America isn’t doing much better.

Delta variant danger zones: This ICU hospitalizations map shows most vulnerable states
[Photo: Nic Coury/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

Talk to any healthcare workers working on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19 and they’ll likely tell you one of their worst fears is running out of physical space to treat those infected as the delta variant continues to rage across the U.S. Specifically, many are worried the country could run out of intensive care unit (ICU) beds if delta continues its spread unchecked.

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A lack of ICU beds means doctors may have to be in the position of deciding which patients receive in-hospital treatment and which are left to deal with the disease at home. And if the latest data from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is anything to go by, healthcare workers have a right to worry. America is running out of ICU beds.

[Map: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services]
The HHS has put out an excellent map visualizing ICU bed utilization by state (it’s the third map down on this page). The map shows that of the 5,629 hospitals in the U.S. reporting their beds, over 77% of ICU beds are already taken—that’s 65,642 ICU beds taken of an available 84,935. Of the already-taken ICU beds, 24,084 are full of COVID-19 patients.

The worry is that as delta spreads and cooler weather is around the corner, the number of COVID-19 patients needing an ICU bed could skyrocket. It would take less than a mere doubling of today’s COVID-19 patients in ICU beds to fill the remaining free ones hospitals that report to the HHS still have. And if that happens, not only would COVID-19 patients needing ICU beds be out of luck, but so too could patients with other health conditions needing ICU beds.

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Of course, ICU bed availability varies by state, and the HHS map shows how each state is faring on the individual level. Sadly, a majority of U.S. states have more than 70% of their ICU beds already taken up—and some of those are much more than 70%. Missouri, for example, has 88.5% of its ICU beds taken while Florida has a whopping 93% of all ICU beds already taken. Texas and Georgia also have over 92% of ICU beds occupied.

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