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COVID-19 surge taxes hospitals

A nurse cares for a COVID-19 patient in an ICU in Portland Ore. Associated Press/Photo by Kristyna Wentz-Graff

COVID-19 surge taxes hospitals

As COVID-19 infection rates hit levels not seen since January of this year, Alabama reported its ICUs were at 100 percent capacity, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday. Hospitals in some areas say they are having trouble getting enough medical oxygen. As the delta variant spreads, daily deaths from COVID-19 have quadrupled since early July and climbed to March levels, according to the data tracking site Worldometer. Just over a thousand Americans are dying from the coronavirus each day. Officials estimate that about 98 percent of those deaths are among unvaccinated patients.

What does the vaccination rate look like? It has also increased. About 380,000 Americans got their first shot each day for the past seven days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s an increase of 73 percent since late July.

Dig deeper: Read Charissa Koh’s report on how officials are managing coronavirus among migrants at the U.S. southern border.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, the Missouri School of Journalism, and the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Lynde resides with her family in Wichita, Kan.



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This problem has been all over the country for the past year and a half with full hospital ICUs and makeshift rooms like gift shops turned into extra beds, regardless of whether one focuses on one region now, and should never have happened in the first place. There has never been as far as I can recall any year until Covid where the ICUs are full, medical staff has been stretched to the point of needing non-ICU personnel to act like ICU personnel, people are held in ambulances due to lack of ER beds, and oxygen is running low in the SUMMER, let alone two summers in a row. I do not know how one can rationalize this as not much different than the norm. Only heart attacks killed more people than Covid in the first year. Please take any political blinders off and please just see the medical crisis that we are unnecessarily enduring while the rest of world pities us.


First, it is not true that the ICU occupancy rate is often hovering around 100%. In 2018, it was more like 65%, on average, at least in urban hospitals anyway. Further, who cares if it’s only regional? If one lives in that region, that is a problem. If one is a doctor or nurse in that region, that is a problem. If one region of the country is hurting, we should care. And the regions being hit the hardest are the regions with low vaccination rates. That is the point. Additionally, there are people who can’t get an ICU bed due to no failure on their part because it is being taken by a Covid patient who chose to be irresponsible and not get vaccinated. That is also a problem.

Second, it’s false that this surge is due to illegal/legal immigration. No, rather, it’s due, partly, to the fact too many evangelicals refuse to get vaccinated and instead would rather blame people who don’t look or sound like them. Isn’t there a word for that?





As UNVAXED and COVID illegals are bussed around the U.S., I am not surprised at what is happening. Also many flown in from Afghanistan might be infected as well. Think of the new people arriving that have not been exposed to COVID yet. Were those people vaxed before or after arriving? Were they quarantined?
Someone needs to accept blame for this but it won't be Biden and his media. They and many others will blame it on unvaxed Americans and church gatherings.

not silent

I am in healthcare and know lots of doctors. While it's true that the pandemic is worse in certain areas-and it's true hospitals have been crowded in the past-what we are experiencing now is NOT NORMAL.

I live in Florida, and the hospital where I worked would sometimes get really crowded during tourist season. We even had emergency room patients out in the hallway. On at least one occasion, there were patients on stretchers with curtains around them set up in the lobby near the elevator. I'm sure the nurses and doctors were tired and stressed back then. As has been pointed out, the system was already overburdened BEFORE COVID.

Now, the situation is MUCH, MUCH worse. Before COVID, I never heard of hospitals running out of oxygen in the US. I never heard of them having to set up makeshift morgues outside due to the number of people who were dying. I have never heard the level of fatigue, alarm, and burnout from healthcare providers I'm hearing now.

I don't know any politicians, so this is not about politics. I do know doctors, and they are all VERY concerned about this. Frankly, I find it EXTREMELY frustrating that so many people who may not be as affected by the virus are quick to minimize the pain, stress, and anguish thousands of other people ARE experiencing right now.


It must be pointed out that this is regional and not throughout the USA. Many areas are not experiencing this. Also we must always remember that ICU occupancy is often hovering around 100%. Anyone knows who has worked in a hospital that having a sick patient transferred from a normal Med/Surg unit can often be very challenging due to no beds being available. This is an ongoing problem that predates COVID. It is because hospitalized patients often come in sick requiring an ICU/CCU bed. And some require "upgrading" to an Intensive Care Bed.