Fauci: Officials Will Have To Make Decisions About Who Gets An ICU Bed

by Madison Vanderberg
Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Dr. Fauci says we’re at the point in the pandemic where ICU beds will likely have to be rationed

The Delta variant continues to run rampant in the U.S. and as now many ICU hospital beds across the United States are close (or already at) full capacity and Dr. Anthony Fauci worries about what’s going to happen when we have to turn COVID-19 patients away from the E.R.

“We are perilously close,” Fauci told CNN. “You’re going to be in a situation where you’re going to have to make some very tough choices.”

Fauci’s referring to the fact that hospitals will have to decide who is worthy of COVID-19 treatment or not when states actually run out of hospital beds and according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 93% of ICU beds are full in the state of Arkansas, 96% of ICU beds are taken in Georgia, Kentucky is 90% full, and Texas ICUs across the state are 92% full.

In fact, it’s already happening.

The Washington Post reports that for the first time in Idaho’s history, overburdened hospitals have begun to start rationing medical care. Idaho has had to activate its “crisis standards of care” for at least 10 hospitals, which means that patients may have to be treated in hallways or conference rooms and some equipment may not be available.

“Crisis standards of care is a last resort. It means we have exhausted our resources to the point that our healthcare systems are unable to provide the treatment and care we expect,” Dave Jeppesen, the state’s public health director, said in the statement. “This is a decision I was fervently hoping to avoid.”

Things are dire in Alabama, too. Per local Fox affiliate WZDX, the Alabama Hospital Association said on Monday, September 6, that the state has 181 more ICU patients than there are formally staffed beds. It’s so bad in Alabama that nurses are striking. At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, nurses refused to clock in over the Labor Day holiday, citing low pay and poor working conditions due to the overload of COVID-19 patients.

“Many of our patients that are coming in with COVID are unvaccinated. That has really increased patient load and stress on nurses,” Lindsey Harris, president of the Alabama State Nurses Association, told reporters (via

Over in Kentucky, a federal medical team had to fly in to open up more hospital beds. “Our situation is dire,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear told NBC’s “Meet the Press” (via The New York Times) on Sunday. “We are hit very, very hard, but we are going to continue to fight.”

In Albany, Georgia, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Director of Emergency Services, Dr. James Black told CNN that “the emergency department is full and the hospital is full. Anytime a patient is discharged, we have patients waiting on those beds.”

Sounding like a broken record at this point due to the refusal by many Americans to take basic COVID-19 precautions, Dr. Fauci reminded everyone, yet again, that “vaccination is the number one” method of lowering hospitalizations, full stop.