Mid-South hospitals running out of ICU beds as Delta variant continues to spread


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mid-South hospitals are being overwhelmed by rising COVID-19 cases. The state of Arkansas has only eight empty ICU beds and Mississippi’s numbers are approaching record levels as this surge could have a major impact on Memphis hospitals.

WREG’s Alex Coleman spoke with infectious disease specialist Dr. Steven Threlkeld with Baptist Hospital.
“You better take into account that you could die in an ambulance because an ambulance wouldn’t have a place to take if those circumstances are accurate.” Threlkeld warned.

As the coronavirus surge escalates, the race is on to find open beds in hospitals in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. 

“You may believe that people aren’t dying like people say they are, you may believe like us in health care aren’t being sincere in what we are saying,” Threlkeld said, “but believe this the numbers are impressive.”

As of Wednesday, there are 111 patients are hospitalized with COVID 19 at Baptist Memphis and 75 at Baptist Desoto.
“If you look at some of the projections for the Memphis area, some would say it’ll be bad enough that all the beds in this town are taken up.” Threlkeld said.

This week, Arkansas set a record for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19.

COVID hospitalizations rose Monday by 103, its largest one-day increase to more than 1,300 people. 

When asked recently about the state of Arkansan hospitals, Governor Asa Hutchinson said, “I think we’re in worse position in terms of our ICU beds than we were in January.”

The Arkansas Department of Health reported there are only eight intensive care unit beds available in the state.
“But everybody’s got to realize this is not a good time to get sick because the space is limited,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said.

With nowhere else to go, patients in east Arkansas may have to use Memphis hospitals. In the West Memphis area, that’s one of the go-to options for hospitals.

Mississippi is also approaching a record number of hospitalizations. The state health department reported Tuesday that more than 14 hundred COVID patients were in Mississippi hospitals.

Dr. Threlkeld says if we want to avoid these problems in our hospitals, more people will have to get vaccinated.

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