The number of Americans hospitalized with Covid-19 jumped nearly 60% in the last week, as the coronavirus’ more infectious Delta variant fuels a new wave of infections — and admissions to intensive care units have spiked in a few hard-hit states.
Dr. Christine Choi, a second year medical resident at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles … [+] County, dons the first of several layers of PPE before tending to Covid-19 patients in a specially constructed secure isolation area in January.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Some 34,384 coronavirus patients are currently occupying hospital inpatient beds, and nearly 8,000 are in intensive care units nationwide, occupying 4.42% of the country’s total hospital bed space and 10.15% of ICU capacity, according to data compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Missouri leads the rest of the country with 29.8% of statewide ICU beds taken up by Covid-19 patients, as the Delta variant sweeps through cities like Springfield, pushing up coronavirus infections and forcing hospitals to expand capacity.
Four other states with high case counts have more than one-in-five ICU beds taken by Covid-19 patients: Nevada (24.1%), Florida (22.5%), Mississippi (22.3%) and Utah (22.2%).
Another 11 states — most of which have higher infection rates than the national average — reported coronavirus ICU usage above 10%: Texas (18.3%), Oklahoma (17.9%), Alaska (16.7%), Wyoming (15.2%), Idaho (14.6%), Kansas (14.4%), Louisiana (14.3%), Alabama (13.6%), Georgia (12.9%), Arizona (11.6%) and Washington (11.2%).
A few states with relatively low infection rates have very few Covid-19 hospitalizations: Under 3% of ICU beds are taken by virus patients in Vermont, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Ohio.
Total Covid-19 hospitalizations jumped 58% in the last week, causing the share of hospital inpatient beds dedicated to virus patients to tick up from about 3.2% to 4.4%.
Even though hospitalizations are on the rise again, they’re still nowhere near their January peak, when over 120,000 people with Covid-19 occupied inpatient beds. And the country isn’t necessarily at risk of running out of hospital space yet: Some 71.5% of ICU beds and 75.2% of total inpatient beds are currently being used for Covid-19 and other ailments, low-single-digit increases from last week, and excess capacity has remained stable for months according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
After months of solid declines, coronavirus cases are climbing in all 50 states yet again. Experts say the virus’ Delta variant — which accounts for over 80% of U.S. cases — is the primary culprit for this spike, but some communities are particularly vulnerable to surges because fewer residents are vaccinated against Covid-19. Some 56.6% of Americans have received at least one vaccine shot, but uptake varies widely from state to state, with vaccines reaching 75.2% of Vermonters but just 38.6% of Mississippians. The vaccines also seem to help keep people out of the hospital, even as the virus evolves: One recent study from Israel suggested Pfizer’s vaccine is less effective at warding off Delta infections than previous forms of the virus, but it’s still more than 90% effective at stopping hospitalizations.
“What we’re seeing is surges of infections in communities with low vaccination rates,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, told CNBC’s Shepard Smith on Thursday. “We’re seeing little bumps in cases in places like Vermont and Massachusetts that have high vaccination rates, but they’re fine, their hospitals are fine, they’re not likely to get overwhelmed.”