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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

There are no more intensive care unit beds available for coronavirus patients due to a surge in cases driven by the Delta variant, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Why it matters: It is the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that ICU beds are full in the state, AP reports. The state reached a new record on Monday for the number of coronavirus patients currently on ventilators, according to government data.

  • The state on Monday had 22 ICU beds available, but only a few were equipped to handle COVID-19 patients, per AP.

What they're saying: "Everyone should know the strain this puts on our hospitals and the need to get our vaccinations and how critical our bed space is," Hutchinson said.

  • "That is a cautionary note for everyone and should emphasize the need to get our vaccinations done," he added.
  • Hutchinson said that hospitals are working to acquire more beds, and Arkansas Department of Health chief of staff Renee Mallory said that one hospital is working to open more beds Tuesday and "maybe later in the week."

By the numbers: Arkansas has reported a total of 436,242 cases and 6,704 confirmed deaths, per the state's health department.

  • The state ranks fifth in the country for new cases per 100,000 people, AP notes, citing data from Johns Hopkins University.
  • Only around 45% of the state's population is fully vaccinated.

Go deeper

Updated 17 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Omicron variant detected in more countries

The Galeao International airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazi. Photo: Mauro Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and South Korea on Wednesday became the latest countries to report cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. They followed similar announcements made in Brazil and Japan on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The arrival of the "variant of concern" in more countries underscores the difficulties governments are facing as they seek to reopen economies stalled by nearly two years of pandemic restrictions in the era of global air travel.

First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The first known U.S. case of the Omicron variant was detected in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: The confirmed case was detected in a traveler returning from South Africa who was fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms, according to the CDC.