ICU beds still available in North Carolina hospitals but COVID-19 hospitalizations not slowing down

Maggie Green Image
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
ICU beds still available in NC but hospitalizations hit record highs
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As Christmas approaches, North Carolina hospitals aren't seeing much holiday reprieve.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As Christmas approaches, North Carolina hospitals aren't seeing much holiday reprieve.

Last week, North Carolina set four records for the highest number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized daily. New data from the US Department of Health and Human Services shows that though the number of ICU beds filled each day has decreased in some hospitals, the percentage of COVID-19 patients is rising.

At Duke University Hospital in Durham, 97% of adult inpatient beds were occupied on average each day for the week from December 11 to December 17. But the number of COVID-19 patients in those beds each day increased by 10 from the week before to 73 adult patients on average, making up 10% of occupied inpatient beds.

Two weeks ago, Duke University Hospital reported all of its ICU beds were full on average each day. Fortunately, last week the hospital opened three more ICU beds, and on average five beds were available each day. COVID-19 patients occupied 23% of those ICU beds on average each day.

RELATED: North Carolina could run out of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in 6 weeks if trends continue, report says

At UNC Hospital, 87% of the hospital's adult inpatient beds were available on average each day, with 9% of those beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. Each day, an average of 20 ICU beds were available each day, with 25 COVID-19 patients in the ICU.

WakeMed's Raleigh campus saw the highest percentage of COVID-19 patients in hospital beds each day of the Triangle's major hospitals. Of the 499 occupied adult beds, 103 had COVID-19 patients occupying them on average each day. Furthermore, in the hospital's ICU, 32% of occupied beds were filled by COVID-19 patients each day, five more patients than the week before. On average, five ICU beds were available each day at the hospital.

RELATED: First shipment of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine arrives at WakeMed Raleigh

However, at all of the above hospitals, the number of emergency room visits for COVID-like symptoms, one of the metrics state health officials watch to determine the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina, decreased. State health officials will continue to watch those numbers to determine whether the virus is finally slowing its rampant winter spread in North Carolina.