Mississippi, Wisconsin, Oklahoma Among 6 States Running Out of ICU Beds As COVID Hospitalizations Rise

As the U.S. continues to diagnose new cases of the novel coronavirus at record-high rates, multiple states are experiencing severe outbreaks, and health care systems are struggling to meet patient demand as a result. Hospital data indicated that roughly 15 percent of intensive care unit (ICU) beds in 6 states remained unoccupied on Thursday, amid increasing COVID-19 infections reported over the past month.

Mississippi is confronting a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that approach peak figures reported at the height of its summer outbreak resurgence. Data updated Thursday by the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) confirmed that available ICU beds were scarce across the state, with just 106 of 888 beds in total still vacant. Roughly 20 percent of Mississippi's ICU beds were occupied with COVID-19 patients.

Intensive care units in Jackson, Mississippi's capital city, reached their maximum capacities on Thursday. State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs shared the news on Twitter, alongside a graphic that charted Mississippi's ICU admissions over the past five months. While the number of COVID-19 patients currently admitted to ICUs remained lower than it was during most of July and August, Mississippi's overall ICU admissions reached new highs in November.

"Zero ICU beds in Jackson. Very few elsewhere," Dobbs captioned the tweet. "Please protect yourself and your family."

Zero ICU beds in Jackson. Very few elsewhere.

Please protect yourself and your family. pic.twitter.com/08CxKh6Jzd

— thomas dobbs (@TCBPubHealth) November 12, 2020

In Wisconsin, where the incidence of new COVID-19 cases diagnosed per day has increased by more than 450 percent since the second week of September, just 10 percent of the state's ICU beds remained available on Wednesday. The state's general hospital bed capacity similarly neared 90 percent, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The number of ICU beds and regular beds occupied by COVID-19 patients has climbed steadily over the past several weeks. On Monday, about 20 percent of COVID-19 patients hospitalized across Wisconsin were admitted to ICUs.

Oklahoma's ICU bed occupancy stood at about 97 percent on Thursday, according to COVID Act Now, a nonprofit organization that catalogues individual states' outbreak developments. Both hospitalizations and ICU admissions related to COVID-19 reached record highs in Oklahoma on Wednesday, and have been rising steadily for more than one month. In Tulsa, hospitals ran out of ICU beds earlier this week.

Montana's medical facilities have also reached their maximum capacities for ICU patients. In South Dakota, which reported some of the highest rates of new COVID-19 cases diagnosed per capita in the U.S. over the past week, occupied ICU beds exceeded 80 percent of the state's total beds available. In Idaho, data published by the state's Division of Public Health showed less than 100 ICU beds still available for use on Wednesday.

The latest ICU occupancy statistics released by health officials in Indiana and Ohio approached 80 percent this week, as both states sees increasing COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization and ICU admission.

Meanwhile, health officials in other states, such as Nebraska, have warned that if current outbreak trends continue, hospitals will struggle to meet patients' needs. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reported that about 25 percent of the state's hospital beds, and 30 percent of its ICU beds, remained available for use on Thursday.

Wisconsin COVID
Members of the Wisconsin National Guard administer COVID-19 tests at a drive-through site in Milwaukee on October 9, as the state began to see a spike in virus cases. Scott Olson/Getty