Hospital Staffing Shortages Rise Sharply in Florida as Beds Fill
(Bloomberg) -- The number of hospitals reporting critical staffing shortages is climbing swiftly in Florida, where a highly contagious Covid-19 variant is filling beds fast.
Florida has 13% of its facilities reporting a shortage of medical personnel, up from 4% a week earlier, according to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services data. The one-week jump of about 9 percentage points was the most in the country, the data show.
Although Florida has the worst momentum, 14 states -- including Alabama, Louisiana and Oklahoma -- are reporting more critical staffing shortages as a percentage of total facilities. Some of that may reflect structural differences unrelated to Covid-19.
Florida accounts for nearly 20% of U.S. Covid-19 cases reported in the past week, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show.
The fast-spreading delta variant, now dominant in the U.S., is putting hospital systems on their heels. After sweeping through the Ozarks, the virus is hitting hard in the Sunshine State and Deep South, where torrid summers typically drive people to indoor areas where the virus is more easily transmitted. In Florida, hospitalizations have already exceeded January levels, but this surge has developed about three times as fast. Intensive-care unit occupancy is also climbing quickly.
High vaccination rates among older Americans have kept the latest surge less deadly, but it is hitting health-care systems when doctors and nurses are facing severe fatigue from earlier waves.
Hospitals are also balancing the Covid admissions with more normal patient traffic, which wasn’t the case earlier in the pandemic, when many would-be patients stayed away.
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