At Midstate Medical Center in Meriden, Connecticut, the ICU is full. It can send patients to other hospitals in its network, which helps keep it from being overwhelmed — as long as open beds exist elsewhere.

The president of the center, Gary Havican, said staffing is his biggest concern in the coming weeks.

“The surge is real,” Havican said in an email. “What’s also causing our volume to increase so dramatically is that during the first wave, people with other medical conditions were not going to hospitals for treatment due to the pandemic. Now, all those patients who stayed away the first time, are coming in for treatment — as they should.”

ICU stress is a companion to the IHME’s hospital stress level metric, which measures the total number of beds in use by Covid patients. These patients, regardless of whether they were admitted for the disease or contracted the disease while hospitalized, require more resources to care for, said Dr. Ali Mokdad, a professor at the institute.

And measuring ICU stress may more accurately reflect the burden a hospital is under, Mokdad said in an email. “It’s easier for a hospital to increase bed capacity than it is for ICUs.”

NBC News is tracking hospital stress levels, hospitalization rates across the country, Covid case surges in each state, vaccination rates nationwide and whether the CDC recommends indoor masking in the county where you live.


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