Key findings:

  • Nationwide, the seven-day moving average for COVID-19 cases is up 148% from June 7 to July 7.
  • States hit hardest with new waves of COVID-19 cases like Arizona, California, Texas and Florida have the highest percentages of hospital beds occupied by patients with COVID-19.
  • Arizona, California, Texas and Florida were states that already rated poorly for hospital capacity prior to COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Nationwide, there are an average of 2.96 physicians and 2.4 hospital beds per 1,000 people.
  • From 2014 to 2018, 23 states saw decreases in hospital beds per 1,000 people.

One of the primary concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic is the capacity of health care systems to handle the growing number of cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health organizations refer to this as flattening the curve. "The curve" is the total number of cases in a time period since the first case. If there are too many total cases in a short period of time, it can overwhelm health care capacity to treat people for COVID-19. In many states across the country, the curve never flattened. Since June, there hasn’t been a flattening effect, but rather a significant spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. States like Arizona, Texas, Florida and California have all experienced the sharpest spikes in COVID-19 cases starting in June 2020. Many of these states seeing increases in cases in June and July are experiencing two to four times more growth than previous periods.

The exponential growth in cases of COVID-19 is putting stress on hospital capacity in states hit hardest with increasing cases. Reports out of Florida indicate 41 hospitals in Florida are at full capacity. In Arizona, 91% of ICU beds are in use. California Governor Gavin Newsom said hospitalizations are up 44%. According to most recent CDC data, Arizona, Texas, Florida and California are among the states with the highest percentages of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. QuoteWizard’s analysis of Kaiser Family Foundation hospital capacity data found a correlation between states that are seeing increased hospitalization due to COVID-19 and those that already rated poorly for hospital capacity before the pandemic. States’ already-low capacity combined with the easing of stay-at-home orders is leading these states’ hospitals toward overcapacity. Without a flattening of the curve in states seeing the sharpest increases in COVID-19 cases, there is real concern in the health care system for treating everyone with and without COVID-19.

Ranking state hospital capacity

The health care system’s capacity to handle COVID-19 is dependent on how many people have access to critical health care components like hospital beds, nurses, doctors and equipment like ventilators. We here at QuoteWizard wanted to analyze health care capacity in each state to see which states are best equipped to handle new cases of COVID-19. To evaluate health care capacity, we analyzed Kaiser Family Foundation data on hospital 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. In follow-up analysis in July 2020, we evaluated CDC data for the percentage of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients to compare current capacity figures with capacity ratings before the pandemic. We also paired New York Times’ seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases from June to July to show the sharp increase in new cases in each state. The analysis is intended to show where cases are spiking; there’s a correlation between hospital capacity and how prepared states’ hospital systems were before the pandemic.

Rank State Physicians per 1,000 people Beds per 1,000 people % COVID-19 cases occupying beds Growth in seven-day moving average from June to July

1

Utah

2.11

1.82

4.80%

70%

2

Idaho

1.69

1.98

3.30%

716%

3

Nevada

2.00

2.00

13.70%

405%

4

Arizona

2.45

1.96

28.40%

269%

5

Hawaii

2.58

1.86

0.70%

633%

6

Colorado

2.52

1.92

2.60%

24%

7

Texas

2.23

2.3

16.00%

378%

8

Oregon

2.88

1.66

3.20%

243%

9

New Mexico

2.78

1.82

6.00%

26%

10

Washington

2.89

1.70

3.60%

102%

11

California

2.86

1.82

10.80%

194%

12

Georgia

2.38

2.40

14.50%

280%

13

Alaska

2.60

2.26

1.90%

147%

14

South Carolina

2.50

2.50

13.60%

352%

15

North Carolina

2.71

2.14

5.30%

60%

16

Virginia

2.73

2.14

3.40%

-35%

17

Oklahoma

2.39

2.84

4.60%

438%

18

Wyoming

2.03

3.24

2.40%

433%

19

Indiana

2.50

2.62

4.60%

8%

20

Wisconsin

3.04

2.14

2.70%

62%

21

New Hampshire

3.12

2.10

2.40%

-68%

22

Florida

2.63

2.62

16.30%

736%

23

Montana

2.18

3.52

2.50%

1175%

24

Arkansas

2.37

3.18

6.90%

72%

25

Alabama

2.49

3.08

12.40%

204%

26

Vermont

3.75

1.98

0.80%

-42%

27

Mississippi

2.22

4.08

11.30%

180%

28

Maryland

4.08

1.94

8.10%

-45%

29

Delaware

3.23

2.20

3.40%

113%

30

South Dakota

2.31

4.76

3.60%

-11%

31

Iowa

2.70

3.04

2.70%

38%

32

Connecticut

4.38

2.06

2.90%

-71%

33

Tennessee

2.78

2.98

5.10%

147%

34

Rhode Island

4.71

2.10

3.20%

-33%

35

New Jersey

3.43

2.34

4.40%

-40%

36

Kentucky

2.67

3.20

6.00%

31%

37

Minnesota

3.22

2.58

3.80%

-7%

38

Illinois

3.42

2.50

4.20%

-27%

39

Kansas

2.72

3.38

2.80%

276%

40

North Dakota

2.64

4.28

1.90%

10%

41

Maine

3.51

2.54

1.80%

-23%

42

Michigan

3.89

2.50

2.80%

37%

43

Massachusetts

5.25

2.32

3.80%

-53%

44

Louisiana

2.97

3.16

7.80%

250%

45

Ohio

3.63

2.88

4.10%

140%

46

Missouri

3.30

3.08

4.30%

95%

47

Nebraska

2.91

3.54

3.00%

-34%

48

Pennsylvania

3.99

2.92

3.40%

26%

49

New York

4.60

2.7

4.00%

-34%

50

West Virginia

3.17

3.74

2.50%

353%

Methodology

QuoteWizard analyzed Kaiser Family Foundation data on hospital beds and physicians per 1,000 people. We evaluated and ranked states on the number of hospital beds and physicians per 1,000 people. Final rankings are a composite score of states' hospital beds and physicians preparedness. States with the highest rankings are considered to be worst in hospital preparedness. Associated with hospital preparedness, we updated data from the CDC that shows the percentage of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients (as of July 7, 2020). We then paired New York Times’ seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases from June to July to reflect the spikes in new cases experienced over the last month.