The situation there may be a sign of what’s to come for other places with low vaccination rates.,


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Alabama has no more I.C.U. beds available, the state authorities said.

Tending to a patient in the intensive care unit at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Ala, in December. Only about 47 percent of people in the state are at least partially vaccinated, compared with 60 percent nationally.Credit…Julie Bennett/Associated Press

Aug. 19, 2021, 5:07 a.m. ET

There wasn’t a single I.C.U. bed available in Alabama on Wednesday, a possible sign of what other states may confront soon amid a deadly surge of new infections in parts of the United States with low vaccination rates.

I.C.U. beds are filling up across Southern states, and Alabama is one of the first to run out. The Alabama Hospital Association said on Wednesday night that there were “negative 29” I.C.U. beds available in the state, meaning there were more than two dozen people being forced to wait in emergency rooms for an open I.C.U. bed.

The situation has grown desperate in Alabama, one of several states reporting a wave of cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant and low vaccination rates.

Last week, at least two hospitals in Houston were so overwhelmed with virus patients that officials erected overflow tents outside. Elsewhere in Texas, in Austin, hospitals were nearly out of beds in their intensive care units. And in San Antonio, cases reached levels not seen in months, with children as young as 2 months old tethered to supplemental oxygen.

Arkansas hospitals were also close to capacity.

Only 47 percent of people in Alabama are at least partially vaccinated, far lower than the national rate of 60 percent, according to a New York Times database.

On Monday, the seven-day hospitalization average hit 2,603, up from a low of 252 on June 26. Only January’s numbers were higher, when the seven-day average peaked at more than 3,300 on Jan. 10.

Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama said last month that the surge in new cases was down to the number of unvaccinated people. On Friday, she reinstated Alabama’s state of emergency, which had expired in early July, in an effort to expand hospital capacity.