Covid-19 patients are dying in U.S. hospitals at levels not seen since February, and the numbers could worsen as intensive-care units overflow in parts of the South.
In Alabama, there are now more people in ICUs statewide than there are staffed beds available, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Florida, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas are all using more than 90% of their ICU capacity. Covid-19 patients take up about half of ICU beds in those states, an extraordinary amount for a single diagnosis.
The fast-spreading delta variant has fueled the Covid-19 wave that began lashing the Ozarks in late June and spread nationwide. There are some preliminary signs that the wave may be close to a peak, especially in those original hot spots, but the situation remains dire in hospitals, where officials say the vast majority of Covid inpatients are unvaccinated.
The U.K.’s experience with the Delta variant had left many in the U.S. hopeful that the latest wave would be dramatically less deadly than those that preceded it, even if it produced high numbers of infections. But preliminary data on deaths from hospitals suggest that may not be the case. There’s no question that it would be much worse without vaccines, but the virus continues to exact a steep toll. The number of people dying in U.S. hospitals with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 rose to a seven-day average of 1,016 on Wednesday, the most since Feb. 22, according to HHS data.
Official Covid deaths can take weeks or more to be reported. The fatality data from hospitals has no such lag, but the figures are different from official counts, in which death certificates are reviewed. While the patients had confirmed or suspected Covid when they died in the hospital, it’s possible that some of the deaths weren’t caused by Covid.
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