Montana sees new hospitalization record; Minnesota's statewide transfer system offers little help: 5 COVID-19 updates

While new virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths drop nationally, some areas and states are still facing high volumes of COVID-19 patients.

Below is a snapshot of the situation in five states with the highest COVID-19 hospitalization rates over the last two weeks, as of Oct. 15. Data is from HHS and tracked by The New York Times.


14-day change: 21 percent increase

Hospitalizations per 100,000 people: 19

"We are full. The system is full. We are stretched and we are stressed," Rahul Koranne, MD, president and CEO of the Minnesota Hospital Association, told NBC affiliate KARE. "It's like being on a treadmill for 19 months that just sped up." 

Throughout the pandemic, Minnesota's Critical Care Command Center, known as C4, has monitored capacity at hospitals statewide, finding beds for patients when providers can't. From Nov. 2 to Dec. 2, 2020, C4 found 256 placements for 326 intensive care requests, an 82 percent success rate. In comparison, from mid-September to Oct. 13, 2021, there were 417 ICU requests and C4 could only find 104 placements, a 28 percent success rate.

During the worst of last winter's peak, adult hospital bed availability statewide fell to about 9 percent, Dr. Koranne said. Minnesota hit that mark in the beginning of September this year, and currently around an average of 6.5 percent availability.

Dr. Koranne said the current crisis conditions are caused by a lack of nurses and physicians adequately trained to care for sick and severely sick patients. Some hospitals have started canceling "some non-sensitive surgeries weeks ago," according to Dr. Koranne.


14-day change: 25 percent increase

Hospitalizations per 100,000 people: 21

As of Oct. 13, a total of 2,061 adults with confirmed COVID-19 infections were hospitalized in Michigan, with 545 confirmed or suspected adult COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care, state data shows. 

"I had just worked a couple of shifts in a row where I had six, seven people sitting in the emergency department, waiting for beds at other hospitals that didn't exist," Rob Davidson, MD, an emergency room physician in rural Western Michigan, told CNN Oct. 9. 


14-day change: 14 percent increase

Hospitalizations per 100,000 people: 48

Montana recorded an all-time high number of COVID-19 hospitalizations on Oct. 13, according to state data cited by NBC Montana. As of Oct. 13, Montana hospitals reported 510 COVID-19 patients, four more than the previous record of 506 patients in November 2020. 

North Dakota

14-day change: 13 percent increase

Hospitalizations per 100,000 people: 37

There were 202 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state as of Oct. 14, including 21 people in the intensive care unit. That's up from 196 hospitalized COVID-19 patients reported on Oct. 9. 

Fifty-eight of the patients currently hospitalized (28.7 percent) are between the ages of 60 and 69 — the most of any other age group. There were 160 available staffed inpatient beds and nine open ICU beds statewide as of Oct. 14, state data shows. 

There are currently 4,001 active COVID-19 cases in North Dakota. 

During an Oct. 1 news conference, Gov. Doug Burgum alongside CMOs and physicians from some of the state's largest hospitals urged the public to avoid risky activities to prevent additional strain on North Dakota's healthcare system. 

To reduce hospitalizations, health officials asked the public to drive defensively, avoid activities that could lead to injury and ensure they're up to date with other vaccinations, including flu shots. 

"The pressure on hospitals and clinics in both our urban and rural areas is reaching critical levels, and we all need to do our part to avoid hospitalization and prevent further strain on these facilities and their staff as we work through this incredibly challenging time," Mr. Burgum said.


14-day change: 10 percent increase

Hospitalizations per 100,000 people: 27

As of Oct. 15, Pennsylvania was reporting 2,946 total COVID-19 hospitalizations and 687 adult COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care, according to state data. This is compared to two weeks ago, on Oct. 2, when 2,671 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized and 576 adults required intensive care.

In Erie County, COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen from less than five new infections per day in late July to 75 patients Oct. 14, officials are considering implementing a face mask mandate if local COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise, according to the Erie Times-News.


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