The emergence of the omicron variant of COVID-19 is once again putting a major strain on health care systems nationwide. One of the primary concerns during the pandemic is the ability of each state’s hospitals to handle a growing number of cases. If there are too many cases in a short period of time, hospitals can run out of beds and their capacity to treat people diagnosed with COVID-19 can be overwhelmed.

Our team of analysts looked at each state’s number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds, staffing shortages and number of physicians to see which states are least prepared for another surge in cases.

Key findings:

  • Over 78% of ICU beds across the country are currently being used.
  • Nearly 29% of hospitals are dealing with critical staffing shortages.
  • Texas, Georgia, New Mexico and Nevada currently have the least prepared hospitals.
  • Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire have the highest number of hospitals facing critical staffing shortages.
  • Nationwide, there are an average of 2.96 physicians and .32 ICU beds per 1,000 people.

When our team of analysts looked at each state’s ICU unit, we found that many southern states are nearing or already at capacity. Nearly 85% of ICU beds in seven southern states are currently occupied. We also found that more than 30% of hospitals in 23 states are facing critical staffing shortages.

ICU BED AND STAFFING SHORTAGES IN EACH STATE
State % of ICU beds in use % of hospitals with critical staffing shortage Number of pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations
U.S. 78% 29% 680
Rhode Island 96% 67% 5
Kentucky 91% 41% 11
Texas 91% 23% 164
New Mexico 90% 53% 2
Indiana 89% 31% 13
Alabama 89% 32% 18
Missouri 88% 44% 18
Nevada 86% 25% 10
Pennsylvania 86% 23% 54
Massachusetts 86% 38% 1
Mississippi 86% 25% 6
New Hampshire 86% 60% 3
Georgia 86% 28% 29
Delaware 85% 10% 0
Oklahoma 85% 38% 1
Arkansas 85% 28% 12
Ohio 84% 31% 53
Nebraska 84% 23% 2
Iowa 83% 37% 8
Wisconsin 83% 43% 6
North Carolina 83% 11% 23
Louisiana 83% 27% 4
Michigan 83% 33% 8
Vermont 82% 69% 1
Kansas 81% 28% 4
Minnesota 81% 24% 1
West Virginia 81% 44% 0
Florida 81% 24% 27
Washington 80% 25% 15
Maryland 79% 16% 13
South Carolina 79% 38% 4
Virginia 79% 27% 17
Idaho 79% 9% 1
Arizona 78% 35% 11
Alaska 78% 14% 0
Illinois 78% 15% 24
Utah 77% 7% 0
Connecticut 77% 4% 1
California 77% 47% 28
New York 77% 9% 36
Maine 75% 18% 2
Tennessee 75% 41% 2
Oregon 75% 7% 11
Colorado 74% 42% 15
North Dakota 72% 30% 1
South Dakota 69% 7% 0
Hawaii 67% 35% 3
Montana 60% 15% 3
New Jersey 53% 26% 9
Wyoming 34% 41% 0

Ranking state hospital capacity

To evaluate health care capacity, we analyzed Health and Human Services (HHS) and Kaiser Family Foundation data looking at IUC beds and physicians per 1,000 people in each state. We took a composite ranking score to determine hospital capacity in each state. States with the highest rankings are considered least prepared for hospital capacity. We also compared HHS data for estimated ICU beds in use. This capacity figure is intended to show the total current capacity of ICU beds as of January 12.

STATES THAT ARE LEAST PREPARED FOR HOSPITAL CAPACITY
Rank State ICU beds per 1,000 people Physicians per 1,000 people % of ICU utilized
1 Texas 2.07 2.23 91%
2 Georgia 1.59 2.38 86%
3 (tie) New Mexico 1.50 2.78 90%
3 (tie) Nevada 2.37 2.00 86%
5 Utah 1.54 2.11 77%
6 Arizona 1.48 2.45 78%
7 Missouri 2.47 2.22 88%
8 (tie) Idaho 2.02 1.69 79%
8 (tie) Oklahoma 2.25 2.39 85%
10 Indiana 2.39 2.50 89%
11 South Carolina 1.77 2.50 79%
12 (tie) North Carolina 1.92 2.71 83%
12 (tie) Rhode Island 1.60 4.71 96%
14 Washington 1.23 2.89 80%
15 Alaska 1.61 2.60 78%
16 (tie) Hawaii 1.23 2.58 67%
16 (tie) Arkansas 2.57 2.37 85%
16 (tie) Alabama 2.87 2.49 89%
19 (tie) Vermont 0.98 3.75 82%
19 (tie) Kentucky 2.71 2.67 91%
21 New Hampshire 2.15 3.12 86%
22 (tie) Colorado 1.67 2.52 74%
22 (tie) Virginia 1.80 2.73 79%
22 (tie) Pennsylvania 2.01 3.99 86%
25 California 1.54 2.86 77%
26 Wisconsin 2.08 3.04 83%
27 Delaware 2.21 3.23 85%
28 Oregon 1.50 2.88 75%
29 Minnesota 1.96 3.22 81%
30 (tie) South Dakota 2.26 2.31 69%
30 (tie) Iowa 2.55 2.70 83%
32 Nebraska 2.44 2.91 84%
33 Kansas 2.46 2.72 81%
34 Maryland 1.69 4.08 79%
35 Massachusetts 2.34 5.25 86%
36 Montana 2.53 2.18 60%
37 Ohio 2.39 3.63 84%
38 Mississippi 2.80 3.30 86%
39 Wyoming 2.61 2.03 34%
40 (tie) Florida 3.65 2.63 81%
40 (tie) Michigan 2.29 3.89 83%
42 Tennessee 2.33 2.78 75%
43 (tie) Illinois 2.23 3.42 78%
43 (tie) Louisiana 2.81 2.97 83%
45 Maine 2.10 3.51 75%
46 (tie) New Jersey 2.05 3.43 53%
46 (tie) North Dakota 2.70 2.64 72%
48 West Virginia 3.17 3.17 81%
49 Connecticut 2.27 4.38 77%
50 New York 2.35 4.60 77%

Methodology

To calculate the number of available ICU beds in each state, we used data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services compiled starting on January 12.

Data on the number of ICU beds and physicians per capita was compiled using information from the Kaiser Family Foundation and HHS. To calculate the least prepared states for hospital capacity, we generated an aggregate score based on the number of available ICU beds, physicians per capita and current hospital capacity.