The U.S. coronavirus outbreak crossed a grim new milestone of over 3 million confirmed cases on Tuesday as more states reported record numbers of new infections, and Florida faced an impending shortage of intensive care unit hospital beds. This report produced by Chris Dignam.
More than four dozen hospitals in Florida reported that their intensive care units (ICUs) have reached full capacity on Tuesday as COVID-19 cases surge in the state and throughout the country.
Hospital ICUs were full at 54 hospitals across 25 of Florida’s 67 counties, according to data published on Tuesday morning by the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration. More than 300 hospitals were included in the report, but not all had adult ICUs.
Thirty hospitals reported that their ICUs were more than 90% full. Statewide, only 17% of the total 6,010 adult ICU beds were available on Tuesday, down from 20% three days ago, according to the agency’s website.
Florida’s coronavirus cases have soared in the last month, with the state’s daily count topping 10,000 three times in the last week. The death rate from COVID-19 rose nearly 19% in the last week from the week prior, bringing the state’s death toll to more than 3,800.
All ICU beds are filled at the three hospitals in Clay County, where the population is around 220,000.
Florida Governor Ron Desantis on Monday encouraged state residents to seek care at hospitals if needed, citing concerns that people with life-threatening conditions other than COVID-19 had avoided hospitals earlier in the pandemic to the detriment of their health.
“Hospitals are safe and Floridians in need of treatment shouldn’t avoid seeking care,” Desantis wrote on Twitter.
In Miami-Dade – the state’s most populous county – eight hospitals reported their intensive care units were filled to capacity, including North Shore Hospital with 56 ICU beds. The hospital with the most ICU capacity in the county, Jackson Memorial, reported that its ICU was 91% full.
Miami-Dade County’s mayor rolled back reopening plans on Monday in light of the climbing case count, halting indoor dining at restaurants that had resumed business after an initial shutdown aimed at containing the virus’ spread.
Reporting by Maria Caspani, Lisa Shumaker and Gabriella Borter, Editing by Franklin Paul and Bill Berkrot