'Only 8 ICU beds available': Hospitals in these southern states ravaged by COVID are running out of space to care for patients

'Only 8 ICU beds available': Hospitals in these southern states ravaged by COVID are running out of space to care for patients
U.S. Air Force Capt. Kimberly Warstler, R.N., stationed at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., dons proper personal protective equipment to enter a room with a COVID-19 positive patient at the Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, Nov. 13, 2020. Warstler is a Lone Star State native, having received her nursing degree from Texas Tech University, and says she's proud to return to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. She, along with approximately 60 service members, are working jointly with the civilian hospitals to assist in the mitigation of the virus and help citizens in need. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible Department of Defense support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in support of the whole-of-America COVID-19 response. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Samantha Hall)

As COVID variants continue to spread across the United States, the southern region of the country is being hit particularly hard by the Delta strain of COVID.

According to multiple reports, states including Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are facing an alarming uptick in COVID-19 cases being reported. And to make matters worse, children are also contracting the virus at an alarming rate.

Here's a rundown of those states.

Alabama: With the lowest vaccination rate in the United States, Alabama is in the midst of a public health crisis that is worsening by the day. According to AL.com, COVID-related hospitalizations are "skyrocketing," and currently has more than 2,000 COVID patients in hospitals across the state.

Per AL.com:

"Scott Harris, the head of the Alabama Department of Public Health and state health officer, said the vast majority -- probably over 95 percent and maybe even higher -- are unvaccinated of those hospitalizations. We're seeing some breakthrough cases, some vaccinated people that are testing positive, but most of those people don't even show symptoms or get sick, and very few of them are being hospitalized right now."

Arkansas: In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) is expressing concern about the rapid spread of the Delta variant in his state as hospital systems statewide approach intensive care unit (ICU) capacity.

"We saw the largest single-day increase in hospitalizations and have eclipsed our previous high of COVID hospitalizations," Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said on Twitter. "There are currently only eight ICU beds available in the state."

Florida: In the Sunshine state, it is being reported that approximately 43% of ICU beds are occupied due to the influx of COVID patients, according to The Wall Street Journal. That number is steadily continuing to rise, prompting state public health officials and front-line workers to prepare for a tidal wave of sick patients in the coming days and weeks. Renewed COVID concerns come as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) continues to enforce his ban on masks mandates as he condemns the idea of vaccine passports; both of which could be beneficial for mitigating the spread of the virus in his state.

Louisiana: Leading the nation in newly reported COVID cases, Louisiana is already at the center of a public health crisis. With only 37% of residents vaccinated for COVID, Louisiana also ranks among the five lowest vaccinated states in the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unvaccinated individuals account for the vast majority of new cases currently being reported. Nearly all COVID-related deaths are also among the unvaccinated.

The state's hospitalizations have also increased with the uptick in new COVID cases as medical professionals express concern about the possibly grim weeks to come. Last Monday, Dr. Catherine O'Neal, head of Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, spoke out about the crisis unfolding at her hospital, according to the HuffPost.

"When you come inside our walls, it is quite obvious to you that these are the darkest days of this pandemic," O'Neal said.

Mississippi: Like Louisiana, Mississippi is also facing a grim uphill battle with COVID. According to WREG, nearly 20 of Mississippi top hospitals have already reached ICU capacity. Mississippi State Health official Thomas Dobbs recently shed light on the state's COVID surge. According to Dobbs, "more than 200 people were waiting in hospitals' emergency rooms to be admitted Monday." While expressing concern about the state's health crisis, Dobbs urged residents to get vaccinated as he emphasized that unvaccinated residents make up roughly 97% of the state's positive COVID cases.


Texas: In the state of Texas, cases are also on the rise. Texas Tribune reports that dozens of hospitals in the Lone Star state are already at ICU capacity as the number of positive COVID cases are increasing daily. "This surge is by far the fastest and most aggressive that we've seen," said the health authority for Austin and Travis County as he appealed to Texas residents to get vaccinated.

Per the publication:

"The state is divided into 22 trauma service areas, and half of them reported 10 or fewer available ICU beds on Sunday. As more than 9,400 COVID-19 patients fill the state's ICUs, which are reserved for the patients who are the sickest or most injured, the trauma service area that includes Laredo reported no available ICU beds, while the area that includes Abilene reported having one."

Like DeSantis, Abbott in May also issued an executive order banning city officials in local government from enforcing mask mandates. Now, he is urging medical professionals to consider incorporating measures to expand the availability of hospital beds. On Monday, August 9, he issued a letter to the Texas Health Association that included a list of suggestions and recommendations.

In the wake of rising COVID cases, school districts in Texas are defying Abbott's executive orders on mask mandates.

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