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What Happens When an ICU Reaches Capacity?

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

The latest surge in coronavirus cases is overwhelming many of the nation’s intensive care units. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that nearly 80% of the country’s ICU beds were in use. 

About 30 percent of those were filled by someone with COVID-19. Arkansas said it ran out of ICU beds for COVID-19 patients for the first time since the pandemic began. In Oregon, hospitals are getting stretched to the breaking point. ICU nurses are having to look after more patients than usual. And some patients may have to spend more time in the emergency room waiting for an ICU bed. Burnout among ICU medical staff is increasingly raising concerns about labor shortages.

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