Pressure Drops On Hospital ICUs As Covid Cases Slide — But These States Are Still Facing A Crunch

While the number of Americans in intensive medical care units equipped with Covid-19 has decreased significantly over the past month, some hospitals have pulled back from the brink. However, some states still struggle with high coronavirus hospitalizations or crowded ICUs.

Antoinette McPherson, a nurse, adjusts the electrode of a patient who is still on a ventilator after a COVID-19-related infection at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside. This was May 19, 2020. Newsday via Getty Images

The Key Facts

According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, just over 78% of country's ICU beds were occupied on Friday. This is down from 81.4% four week ago. The number of patients with Covid-19 in the ICU is 17,279, which represents 23.82% of all U.S. hospital ICU capacities. This is a sharp decrease from just four weeks ago when coronavirus patients used 24,485 ICU beds and almost 30% of ICU space. Patients with Coronavirus still take up more than 40% of all adult ICU beds in at minimum three states: Idaho (54.7%), Montana (51.5%), and Wyoming (45.9%). Texas is the worst ICU state in the nation, with approximately 90% of all the state's intensive care beds being used. 28.7% of these beds are occupied by coronavirus patients. Idaho has 89.5% ICU beds, while Montana's total ICU use is 81.1%. Wyoming is at 64.7%. This is a marked improvement on the situation four weeks ago when ICU capacity was over 90% in seven states and Covid-19 patients occupied more than 40% of ICU beds in 12 states.

What to Watch

Although ICU utilization is declining across the country, some states have seen an increase in hospitalizations over last month. Particularly, Montana's share of ICU beds for Covid-19 has increased by 7.1 percent in the past four weeks. This has forced some hospitals in the state to increase their capacity in light of the influx of patients.

Big Number

82,324. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is the average number of coronavirus cases nationwide in the past week. This is a sharp decline from the early September when more than 160,000 new infections were reported every day.

Important Background

As the more contagious Delta variant of the Coronavirus virus tore through American communities, the virus's recurrence began in July. The surge in hospitalizations caused ICUs to overcrowd in August and September. This forced hospitals in Alabama, Texas, and Idaho to restrict admissions and take drastic measures to prioritize who receives medical care. Although cases and new hospital admissions have declined significantly, infections remain at an all-time high. Experts warn that the number of states offering Covid-19 vaccines, which can significantly lower patients' risk of being hospitalized, is still low. This leaves some communities at risk for outbreaks.