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Virus Expert Warns These 17 States Will Have Next Surge

The Delta wildfire is spreading.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Hospitals are being pushed to the brink with COVID patients. "We are no longer bending. We are breaking. Many people never wanted to believe that could happen, but if you're someone trying to seek care, even for something other than COVID in many of these locations, the challenges are immense," said Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, on his podcast. "I just have to keep remembering day after day after day, that all of these numbers"—the COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths—"are people's moms and dads, their grandpas and grandmas, their brothers and sisters. These are real people in your lives. There are people you care about, they're people you love." Read on to see which states Osterholm says will likely see a "major trending upwards in number of cases"—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Georgia is Running Out of ICU Beds

Atlanta, Georgia, USA downtown skyline.

"Just over 95 percent of Georgia's intensive care unit (ICU) beds have reached full capacity as COVID-19 infections and death rates continue to soar, according to the state's department of health," reports Newsweek. "In its latest report released Friday, the Georgia Department of Health said that 95.3 percent of ICU beds across the state are now in use. The new numbers come just days after Georgia surpassed a grim milestone by reporting that over 20,000 people have died from the virus since the pandemic first began."


South Carolina Just Had One of Its Worst Week Stretches

homes on charleston battery south carolina
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

"With more than 36,000 new cases and hundreds of deaths, South Carolina had one of its worst seven-day stretches for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was first discovered in the state in March 2020," reports the State. "From Aug. 28 through Sept. 3, South Carolina had 36,828 new cases of COVID-19, an average of almost 5,261 cases a day, and 328 deaths, the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control reported. That ranks among the highest number of new cases and deaths in one week since January when the virus was going through an aggressive resurgence."


In North Carolina, People on Ventilators Hit Pandemic High

Raleigh skyline in the summer with crepe myrtle trees in bloom

"COVID hospitalizations have spiked to a level not seen since mid-January, before vaccinations became widely available. As of Friday, 3,800 people are in the hospital with COVID-19 across North Carolina. This is the highest number of people hospitalized since Jan. 13, when there were 3,992 people in the hospital," says MyFox8. "In recent weeks there has been a significant spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. There are nearly 650 people currently on ventilators in hospitals around the state, a pandemic high."


Kentucky Governor Calls Situation "Dire"

Louisville, Kentucky, USA skyline on the river.

"Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said on Sunday that COVID-19 situation in the state is "dire," with a record number of hospitalizations amid soaring cases," reports the Hill. "We are setting case records. We have a record number of Kentuckians in the hospital battling COVID in the ICU, battling for their lives. We have a record number of families that are praying for their loved one who is on a ventilator, needing that assistance to breathe," Beshear said on NBC's Meet the Press.


Tennessee Keeps Breaking Hospitalization Records

Neon signs on Lower Broadway Area on November 11, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee, USA

"Tennessee continues to set record COVID-19 hospitalization numbers. The latest data from the Tennessee Department of Health reveals that there are now 3,597 COVID patients hospitalized across the state," reports News Channel 5. "Of those, 1,020 are in ICUs – Tennessee surpassed the 1,000 mark of critically ill patients over the weekend – and 699 are on ventilators."

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West Virginia Governor Sounds Alarm

West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia, USA.

Reports Metro News: "Gov. Jim Justice noted that West Virginia's map of COVID spread is almost entirely red, the highest level. 'We've got a really big time, big time situation in West Virginia,' Justice said during a briefing. Forty-one of the state's 55 counties were red on today's state map. Data compiled by the New York Times showed that West Virginia has among the highest rates of covid spread in the nation with an 89 percent increase over the past 14 days. The worst states in terms of that increase right now are Maine, South Dakota, Ohio and West Virginia."


Southern Illinois is in "Crisis"

Chicago, Illinois, USA downtown skyline from Lincoln Park at twilight.

"All signs point to a COVID-19 crisis in Southern Illinois, an area with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state," reports the Effingham Daily News. "There is one ICU bed available in Region 5, and on Friday, Jackson County reported 1,329 COVID-19 cases for the month of August — the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. All of the Southern Seven Health Department's region remain at warning level as the virus continues to spread, and the Franklin-Williamson Bi-County Health Department reported 132 new cases on Friday."


Southern Indiana Hospitals are Strained

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA skyline over Soliders' and Sailors' Monument at dusk.

"Local health officials say that while COVID-19 patients are still able to receive care at Southern Indiana hospitals, the rise in cases is putting a strain on a system that was operating at high levels even before the pandemic," reports the News and Tribune. "As of Monday morning, there were 18 people hospitalized for COVID-19 at Clark Memorial Health, 10 in ICU, of the hospital's 21 critical-care beds."


Washington Levels are Reaching Pandemic Highs

Seattle skyline at sunset, WA, USA

"Health experts in Southwest Washington are worried that COVID-19 infection rates are higher now than at any time since the pandemic started," reports OPB. "Dr. Alan Melnick with Clark County Public Health said the pandemic is headed in the wrong direction. The area is seeing 10 times as many cases now, as two months ago." "These case increases are occurring in all age groups with the highest rate among young adults, 20 to 39 years of age," said Melnick.

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Oregon and Idaho are Running Out of ICU Beds

Portland, Oregon at night

"Oregon and Idaho have joined the list of U.S. states that are running out of I.C.U. beds as both confront a dramatic rise in new coronavirus infections," reports the New York Times. "The Oregon Health Authority reported on Saturday that only 50 of the state's 638 hospital beds were still available. Gov. Brad Little of Idaho, a Republican, said in a statement last week that just four of the state's nearly 400 beds were still open. The national Delta-driven surge has filled hospitals in many states. Only a handful have more than 30 percent of their overall I.C.U. beds still available, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, and many have less. Mr. Little and Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon, a Democrat, each mobilized members of their state's National Guard last month to add extra hospital staff."


Minnesota Hospitals Have "Dwindling Space"

Downtown of Minneapolis.Minnesota

"The latest surge of COVID-19 cases is straining hospitals in central Minnesota, where vaccination rates trail other parts of the state," reports MPR. "In the CentraCare health care system, which operates hospitals and clinics in central Minnesota including St. Cloud, the number of hospitalized patients is higher now than during the spring surge, said Dr. George Morris, medical incident commander for CentraCare's COVID-19 response team. That's led to dwindling space in the hospitals' intensive care units — sometimes just a handful of available beds statewide, Morris said."


North and South Dakota

Famous US Presidents on Mount Rushmore National Monument, South

"North Dakota is rounding off the most intense week of the latest COVID-19 outbreak with another major increase in active infections," reports the Grand Forks Herald. "Hospitals officials warn that the worsening outbreak, driven by the highly infectious delta variant, could overwhelm the state's health care system if more residents don't buy into vaccination, mask-wearing and social distancing." Meanwhile: "South Dakotans hospitalized with COVID-19 climbed to its highest number since January, with 230 people occupying a hospital bed, the Department of Health reported Friday," reports the Argus Leader.

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Wisconsin Has Deaths in Double Digits

Wisconsin Welcome sign at Marinette WI

"Wisconsin saw a decline in the 7-day average of new coronavirus cases — the second day-to-day decline in that rolling average in one week, making it only the second day-to-day decline we've seen since July 4." But: "COVID-19 deaths were in the double digits for the fourth day this week."


Michigan Has Daily Double Deaths

Detroit Woodward Ave

"Just before Labor Day last year, Michigan was seeing about 670 new daily cases of COVID-19, fewer than 10 people were dying from the disease and a widely available vaccine was months away," says Crains. "Fast forward a year: 5.2 million residents over age 12 have COVID vaccines, yet the state is averaging about 2,000 new daily cases of COVID-19 and daily deaths are double what they were a year ago."

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A Hospital in Iowa is Running Out of Staff

Des Moines Iowa skyline and public park in USA

"As new coronavirus cases surge in Iowa and hospitals contend with COVID-19 admissions at levels not seen since the vaccines became widely available, local health care officials are preparing for the worst," reports the Gazette. "They aren't worried about having enough beds, and there's plenty of personal protective gear to go around.

Their most precarious resource? The health care staff. Since Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids reopened its COVID-19 floor two weeks ago, Trent Thompson has seen the latest surge firsthand. As a medical intensive-care unit shift supervisor, Thompson often has added extra hours onto his 12-hour shifts to help care for critically ill patients."


Although Cases in the South are Falling, Texas is Still on Fire

House with Texas flag on the lawn

"A 46-year-old US army veteran died of a very treatable condition, a gallstone in Texas, because there wasn't a bed open in the hospital equipped to treat him," said Osterholm. "He waited almost seven hours in an ER bed. His doctors called around looking for a place that he could be treated by the time a bed opened up, it was too late. This kind of scenario is playing out much more frequently in many locations, particularly in the South, and will continue to play out for some time."

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Alabama Has Less Than 10% of ICU Beds in the State Available

Montgomery Alabama

Alabama is one of five states that "have less than 10% of all their ICU beds in the state available for new patients," said Osterholm. Those unvaccinated are paying the price, including kids. "Alabama schools reported 13,000 coronavirus cases in a two-week period on Friday, according to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama State Department of Education," reports the Hill. "Children aged 5-16 have accounted for 21 percent of new coronavirus cases in the state over the past weeks, with the delta variant overloading the state's health care system."


Florida Cases are Going Down Finally but Some ICUs are Still Full

Mizner Park outdoor mall Boca Raton Florida

Florida was and may still be the epicenter but that will soon change. "The past two weeks have brought about declines in places like Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri," said Osterholm. "Now that's great news. Those were the early 'on fire' states, but if you add up their population as part of the United States, it's about 12.5% of all residents. That means that basically 87.5% of the US population is still in states where we are seeing in some cases, major increases in cases." 

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So How Bad Will it Get?

Two doctors in personal protective equipment or ppe including white suit, mask, face shield and gloves.

"When I'm asked, where will the surge go over the course of the next few weeks, it will largely depend on these other areas in the country," said Dr. Osterholm. "Will we see them taking off at all? Like we saw in those Southern Sunbelt states that I just mentioned earlier, or will they get a moderately high level and then begin to decrease? We just don't know. And as we talk more in a moment about kids in school, I think that has the potential to really reignite transmission in communities where it may already have hit a peak and starting to come down, or it'll surely fuel the increase in cases in those areas beginning to see increases. So we'll see what happens in these communities with school openings. And then of course, remember not far off the holidays are approaching and the question will be what might that contribute to the overall number of cases? I just remind everyone with only 6 in 10 Americans who are eligible to get vaccinated are fully vaccinated. We still have a lot of human wood for this coronavirus forest fire to burn." So get vaccinated ASAP and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek