WASHINGTON: No state is anywhere near the worst-case situation of not having enough capacity to handle its COVID-19 outbreak. But rising hospitalization rates are a sign that things are getting worse, at a dangerous time, and a reminder that this virus can do serious harm.
By the numbers: 39 states saw an increase over the past two weeks in the percentage of available hospital beds occupied by coronavirus patients.
Wisconsin is faring the worst, with 9.4% of the state’s beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.
16 states are at or near the highest hospitalization rates they’ve seen at any point in the pandemic.
Yes, but: The all-time peak of coronavirus hospitalizations happened in the spring, when 40% of New Jersey’s beds were occupied by coronavirus patients. Thankfully, even the the worst-performing states today are still a far cry from that.
Between the lines: These numbers, combined with the nationwide surge in new infections, confirm that the pandemic in the U.S. is getting worse — just as the cold weather season begins in some parts of the country, which experts have long seen as a potentially dangerous inflection point.
They also suggest that most parts of the country won’t need to pause or scale back non-coronavirus treatments, as hospitals did in the spring when no one was quite sure how bad things could get.
In rural areas, however, even a modestly sized outbreak can strain local hospital capacity.