Key findings:

  • Over 70% of ICU beds across the country are currently being used.
  • Wyoming, Montana and Hawaii are considered to have the least prepared hospitals.
  • North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming have some of the largest COVID-19 cases per 1,000 people and are states with unprepared hospitals.
  • Nationwide, there are an average of 2.96 physicians and .32 ICU 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. Many people are referring to the spike in November cases as the second wave, but the curve never flattened. Spikes in Midwest states are troubling because our analysis found many Midwest states are not prepared to handle the influx of COVID-19 patients.

The exponential growth in cases of COVID-19 is putting stress on hospital capacity in states hit hardest with increasing cases. States like Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming are experiencing the largest spikes in new COVID-19 cases and are also among states considered least prepared. 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 healthcare 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 Health and Human Services 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. In follow-up analysis 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 November 13th.

Rank State ICU Beds Per 1000 People Physicians Per 1000 People
Percent ICU Utilized
1 Wyoming 0.23 2.03 45%
2 Montana 0.23 2.18 77%
3 Hawaii 0.21 2.58 61%
4 Idaho 0.29 1.69 72%
5 Arizona 0.26 2.45 59%
6 Georgia 0.29 2.38 82%
7 Texas 0.31 2.23 79%
8 Utah 0.32 2.11 66%
9 Washington 0.16 2.89 65%
10 North Carolina 0.25 2.71 78%
11 South Carolina 0.28 2.50 76%
12 Oregon 0.22 2.88 64%
13 California 0.22 2.86 71%
14 South Dakota 0.32 2.31 84%
15 Mississippi 0.34 2.22 87%
16 New Mexico 0.25 2.78 82%
17 Virginia 0.26 2.73 66%
18 Colorado 0.29 2.52 73%
19 Nevada 0.37 2.00 77%
20 Alaska 0.31 2.60 67%
21 Iowa 0.30 2.70 74%
22 Oklahoma 0.34 2.39 75%
23 New Hampshire 0.26 3.12 58%
24 Vermont 0.22 3.75 52%
25 Florida 0.33 2.63 72%
26 Minnesota 0.26 3.22 77%
27 New Jersey 0.26 3.43 62%
28 Kansas 0.34 2.72 80%
29 Indiana 0.39 2.50 69%
30 Rhode Island 0.24 4.71 87%
31 Maine 0.27 3.51 73%
32 Alabama 0.44 2.49 84%
33 Arkansas 0.46 2.37 74%
34 Kentucky 0.39 2.67 75%
35 Maryland 0.26 4.08 76%
36 Delaware 0.32 3.23 79%
37 North Dakota 0.41 2.64 89%
38 Wisconsin 0.35 3.04 68%
39 Tennessee 0.43 2.78 73%
40 Michigan 0.33 3.89 81%
41 Illinois 0.38 3.42 63%
42 Nebraska 0.46 2.91 64%
43 Pennsylvania 0.37 3.99 78%
44 West Virginia 0.44 3.17 76%
45 Massachusetts 0.34 5.25 53%
46 Louisiana 0.53 2.97 69%
47 Ohio 0.40 3.63 70%
48 Connecticut 0.39 4.38 52%
49 Missouri 0.44 3.30 75%
50 New York 0.42 4.60 60%