DALLAS — Wise County ran out of intensive care beds this week, and they're not the only smaller North Texas county facing a similar situation.
The Wise Health System reported this week that its ICU capacity "has hovered at or above 100% capacity over the last few days."
Those numbers can fluctuate daily; on Thursday, the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council reported that Wise County had one of its 20 ICU beds available.
The situation shows what more rural areas are facing in North Texas, where ICU beds in smaller counties are already limited.
Hood County on Thursday also reported that it was at 100% ICU capacity and that 90% of those beds are being occupied by COVID-19 patients. Hood County had 12 ICU beds.
Johnson, Hunt, Parker, Palo Pinto, and Ellis counties were all either at ICU capacity or within one bed of being at full capacity, this week, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which tracks data weekly for all hospitals in the country.
Across the North Texas region, which is classified by the state as Trauma Service Area E, the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council reported that 62 ICU beds are available: 22 in Dallas County, 20 in Tarrant County, 14 in Collin County, five in Denton County and the one in Wise County.
"Vaccinations are absolutely helping protect people and the unvaccinated are very much at risk with the increase in the Delta variant so wearing masks is also another effective tool against COVID-19," the hospital council said in its Wednesday update. "Hospitalizations are a lagging indicator so as case numbers increase, we anticipate hospitalizations will increase."
In Wise County, Wise Health warned that its hospitalizations "may eclipse" its previous peak of 38 COVID-19 patients in December, before vaccines were available.
Wise Health this week had 29 patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
This time around, Wise Health said, more than 90% of COVID-19 patients since March have been unvaccinated. Wise Health cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing how that trend is similar to national trends of fewer than 5% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have been people who are vaccinated.
Wise Health's COVID-19 patients have been younger during this latest surge, with an average patient age of 57 and some patients in their 30s.
"Wise Health System strongly suggests all eligible individuals receive the COVID-19 vaccination," the release said.
Wise County vaccinations have grown steadily in recent weeks after jumping sharply in July, from 326 doses administered on the week of July 5 to 589 on the week of July 19, according to state data. Last week Wise County administered 808 doses of the vaccine. The county has had 35.53% of eligible residents fully vaccinated.
Statewide, 54.73% of eligible Texans are fully vaccinated, according to state data, and 65.86% have received at least one dose. The number of vaccine doses administered has climbed each week since the week of July 12. Last week, 545,928 doses were administered in Texas.