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Coronavirus cases and deaths are continuing to surge across the country as the fourth wave of the pandemic rages on.
On Tuesday, the U.S. recorded 135,245 cases of COVID-19 with a seven-day rolling average of 151,005, which is a 145 percent increase from the 61,451 average reported four weeks ago and the highest figure seen since January.
However, there are signs that growth of infections may be slowing.
Last week, cases had grown by 207 percent in one month and the week prior, the increase 393 percent.
Deaths are also on the rise with 1,405 virus-related fatalities recorded on Tuesday and a seven-day rolling average of 1,043 – the fourth day in a row the average has surpassed four figures.
This marks a 320 percent increase from the average of 248 reported 28 days ago prior and the highest number reported since March 22.
Meanwhile, hospitals are facing surges of patients with more than three-quarters of all intensive care unit beds (ICU) in use, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Arkansas recently joined Alabama as the second state to report that it has run out of ICU beds to treat critically ill patients while other states – such as Georgia, Mississippi and Texas – report that they are nearing capacity.
On Tuesday, the U.S. recorded 135,245 cases of COVID-19 with a seven-day rolling average of 151,005, a 145% increase from the 61,451 average reported four weeks ago
Deaths have also risen with 1,405 virus-related fatalities recorded on Tuesday and a seven-day rolling average of 1,043, a 320% spike from the average of 248 reported 28 days ago prior
According to data from the HHS, 77% of all ICU beds across America are occupied with more than one-third of those in use being used for COVID-19 patients
According to the HHS, 77.34 percent of all ICU beds – or 65,642 out of 84,935 staffed beds – across the country are currently in use.
Of those beds in use, 36.6 percent, or 24,084, are being used to treat COVID-19 patients.
ICU bed availability varies by state with Alabama reporting the highest capacity at 102 percent with 1,576 available beds, but 1,613 patients in need of care.
More than half of the critically ill patients, 53.1 percent, have tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, New Jersey has the least amount of beds in use with just 40.3 percent – or 1,217 out of 3,015 – of ICU beds occupied.
What’s more, just 13.1 percent of ICU beds are being used to treat COVID-19 patients.
Doctors say that many of the patients they are seeing are younger people who did not get vaccinated compared to high-risk older patients seen earlier during the pandemic.
On Tuesday, Arkansas announced it had run out of ICU beds to treat COVID-19 patients as a surge in cases continues to overwhelm hospitals.
There are currently 881 out of 975 beds in use in Arkansas, according to the HHS, but Secretary of Health Dr Jose Romero said at a news conference that just under 50 percent of beds in the state have the ability to be used for COVID-19 patients.
The state has already reached that limit with 50.1 percent of all ICU beds occupied by people ill with the virus.
According to Gov Asa Hutchinson, this is the first time that ICUs have reached capacity since the pandemic began.
The state’s ICU capacity for COVID patients barely eased hours after Hutchinson’s announcement, with only one hospital in southeast Arkansas showing availability, according to the state’s system for coordinating coronavirus patients.
‘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 told reporters.
Alabama is operating at the highest capacity with 102% of all ICU beds in use as hospitalizations reach near record-levels
On Tuesday, Arkansas announced it had run out of ICU beds to treat COVID-19 patients as a surge in cases continued overwhelming hospitals, with around 1,200 patients total hospitalized
More than 1,000 out-of-state medical workers are being deployed to 50 Mississippi hospitals to help with staffing shortages amid the COVID-19 surge as hospitalizations reach 1,655
Hutchinson said hospitals in the state were working to open more ICU beds for virus patients and Arkansas Department of Health Chief of Staff Renee Mallory said one hospital planned to open additional beds later Tuesday and possibly later in the week.
Meanwhile, Romero said the surge in cases is continuing to keep the state’s ICU capacity tight.
‘The more beds we open up, the more they’re going to get filled,’ he told reporters.
In a report issued earlier on Tuesday, public health researchers forecast that the state’s death toll from COVID-19 – which currently sits at 6,749 – will exceed 7,000 by August 30.
‘If this forecast holds true, COVID-19 will have killed more Arkansans than all the wars in the 20th and 21st centuries,’ the forecast by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Fay W Boozman College of Public Health said.
In nearby Mississippi, the pandemic is also causing a surge in Covid cases with the seven-day average increasing by 120 percent from 1,196 per day to 2,635 per day in the last month, according to Johns Hopkins data
And hospitalizations have also risen from 1,031 virus patients at the beginning of the month to 1,655 – an increase of 60 percent, state data show.
More than 1,000 out-of-state medical workers are being deployed to 50 Mississippi hospitals to help with staffing shortages amid the COVID-19 surge.
Republican Gov Tate Reeves said 808 nurses, three certified nurse anesthetists, 22 nurse practitioners, 193 respiratory therapists and 20 paramedics were hired under 60-day contracts that could be extended, if needed.
Mississippi will pay $80 million for the contracts, and Reeves said he expects the federal government to reimburse the state for the entire expense.
State epidemiologist, Dr Paul Byers, said on Tuesday that vaccinations have increased in Mississippi over the past several weeks after hitting a low in early July.
The Health Department reported 85,510 people received a first, second or third inoculation during the week that ended Saturday. That’s the largest number in any week since mid-April.
However, Mississippi still lags behind the national rate: 38 percent of eligible people in the state are fully vaccinated against COVID- 19, compared to 52 percent in the U.S.