Vermont reports record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations, overloaded ICU capacity – Community News
Covid-19

Vermont reports record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations, overloaded ICU capacity

Image via Vermont Department of Financial Regulation.

Vermont reported 84 Covid-19 hospitalizations Tuesday, breaking a previous record of nearly 70 cases on Nov. 23.

At 22, the number of coronavirus patients requiring intensive care is also the highest it has ever been, according to the Vermont Department of Health, compared to a record 20 patients at the peak of last year’s rise.

The vast majority of coronavirus cases in Vermont’s hospitals are unvaccinated, state officials said at the governor’s weekly news conference Tuesday.

The increase in coronavirus-related hospital admissions comes as Vermont hospitals continue to struggle with staffing shortages coupled with pent-up demand from critically ill patients whose strokes, heart attacks or other preventable conditions were exacerbated by lack of medical care earlier in the pandemic, officials said.

Capacity – especially in intensive care units – remains tight. The University of Vermont Medical Center, the state’s only level 1 trauma hospital, had five intensive care slots as of Tuesday, according to spokesman Annie Mackin. She said the system’s flagship hospital in Burlington would open five additional intensive care beds in the coming days.

Health system executives have also moved to postpone or cancel surgeries and procedures to free up space and staff as needed, she said.

The state’s ICU capacity strategy so far has been based on helping hospitals meet the cost of staffing extra beds ahead of the holiday season. Earlier this week, for example, Agency of Human Services secretary Mike Smith said his department would pay 10 intensive care beds to staff in the coming weeks, bringing the state’s total bed capacity to about 110. The state also pays the staff of dozens of beds in long-term care facilities to ease the pressure on hospitals.

State officials said on Tuesday they will continue to monitor hospital capacity and respond accordingly.