Jul 20, 2020 - Health

The surge in coronavirus hospitalizations is severe

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, Harvard Global Health Institute; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Coronavirus hospitalizations are skyrocketing, even beyond the high-profile hotspots of Arizona, Florida and Texas.

Why it matters: The U.S. made it through the spring without realizing one of experts' worst fears — overwhelming hospitals' capacity to treat infected people. But that fear is re-emerging as the virus spreads rapidly throughout almost every region of the country.

Where things stand: Arizona remains in the worst shape: 24.4% of all hospital beds in the state are occupied by COVID-19 patients as of July 18, according to an analysis combining data from the COVID Tracking Project and the Harvard Global Health Institute. Texas is second at 19.1%.

  • Nevada is the next worst, with COVID-19 patients taking up 18.6% of all hospital beds. That's up significantly from 11.2% at the start of July.
  • Florida just started tallying current hospitalization data, showing more than 18% of all hospital beds occupied.

It gets worse: Many other states are showing significant upticks in coronavirus hospitalizations during the first half of July, including Alabama, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.

  • Many of these states, which reopened a lot of their economies in May, do not have mask mandates.

Between the lines: Intensive-care unit beds, reserved for the sickest patients, are completely full in parts of Arizona, Florida, Mississippi and Texas.

  • Hospitals can convert other areas into ICUs, but that's not all that useful if hospitals don't have enough staff and supplies.

The bottom line: Cases have soared over the past 45 days, and hospitalizations naturally follow many of those cases.

  • Rising hospitalizations mean the outbreaks in many areas are not close to being controlled, and some percentage of those hospitalizations will end as deaths.

Go deeper: Everything's deadlier in the South

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