Officials in multiple states warn hospitals, ICUs could soon reach capacity amid coronavirus surge

Hospitals are running out of space as COVID-19 cases climb and hospitalizations spike across the country.

As of Tuesday, nearly 54,000 patients nationwide are currently hospitalized for COVID-19, and 38 states are seeing an upward trend in newly confirmed cases.

This week, several states reported increases in hospitalizations, leaving doctors concerned about the ability to treat enough patients.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three national forecasts suggest an increase in the number of new hospitalizations per day over the next four weeks, while three other forecasts predict stable numbers. By August 3, the forecasts estimate 2,000 to 10,000 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per day.

Dr. Michael White, Chief Medical Officer at Valleywise Hospital in Phoenix, said Arizona has seen an increase in ICU level services and the CDC’s forecast is concerning.

“If we continue to see populations get infected, a small percentage of those are going to need hospitalization and hospital care,” White said. “As we continue to see transmission increase, it does concern us that we could beyond what we’re able to take care of.”

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According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 88% of adult intensive care unit beds were in use as of July 13.

“Here at Valleywise Health, we’re not completely full but we are seeing, approaching that point, where we may become full for patients that are in that ICU capacity,” White said.

In Arizona, 25.2% of inpatient beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, the highest percentage in the country, according to the CDC.

According to White, Valleywise Hospital is planning to move into other spaces or units, where they can continue to effectively deliver ICU level of care. The hospital has also brought in nurses from outside the state to help the front line staff.

On Tuesday there were 4,273 new cases reported in the state increasing the statewide total to 128,097 the Arizona State Department of Health of Services reported.

And Arizona isn’t the only state facing ICU shortages.

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Texas hospitals are also facing capacity concerns. According to WebMD, some Houston hospitals are treating COVID-19 patients in their emergency rooms, as they wait for additional intensive care beds to become available.

Over the weekend, in Florida, the state set a record for the highest number of cases in a single day with over 15,300 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Despite the recent surge, on July 6, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis encouraged state residents to seek care at hospitals if needed.

In Kansas, Wichita hospitals could hit their capacities this month, Wichita’s mayor Brandon Whipple said Monday.

“Just got off the phone with the leadership at our #Wichita hospitals & admitted patients for covid19 are the highest ever,” Whipple said in a tweet. “If these numbers continue at the same rate our hospitals will reach capacity in 2-3 weeks.”“Please wear your mask.”

The Sedgwick County Health Department in Kansas reported that there were only approximately eight beds available in the county, as of July 13.

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According to the Associated Press, five of Mississippi’s largest hospitals “had no intensive care unit beds available for patients by midweek because of a surge in coronavirus cases. Four more hospitals had 5% or less of those beds available.”

Surges in hospitalization and infection rates increased when many states largely reopened restaurants and other businesses in June.

Some governors have had to scale back or halt the reopening of indoor dining and other services for a second time due to the recent climb in new infections.

Despite the rise in cases across the state, many states have also recently ordered schools to reopen in the fall.

“As people are out in public, make sure you’re wearing a mask, do your best to maintain social distancing, and keeping those surfaces clear, and certainly if you can stay home, that’s the best place for you to be until we see the transmission decrease in our communities,” White said.