LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As cases of the delta variant of COVID-19 continue to go up, Arkansas's available ICU beds continue to go down.
Just 12 open beds were available in Arkansas Tuesday, out of 1,129 total.
"I think we're in worse position in terms of our ICU beds than we were in January," Governor Asa Hutchinson said. "Everybody has to realize, this is not a good time to get sick, because the space is limited."
In order to get out of our current situation, the governor says they'll have to make space – even though some hospitals are already at capacity.
"Through specific hospitals, we're opening up additional beds that will be available for COVID patients," he said.
But hospitals like UAMS are already at capacity, and making space is what they've already been doing.
"We usually have two floors that are dedicated to the ICU," Dr. Nikhil Meena, who works at the ICU at UAMS, said. "With COVID numbers going up, we had to move into a separate wing."
Dr. Meena says they're running low on nurses – some are even leaving the industry – and they can't put just anyone in the unit.
"We can't expect the nurse who's not trained to be an intensive care nurse to provide the same level of care than an ICU nurse would," Dr. Meena said.
Getting out of this isn't easy, either.
Both the Governor and Dr. Meena say this is something that could stick around.
"One of the things we've got to work both to reduce the cases and the exposure," Hutchinson said. "But also to plan ahead, because it looks like we're gonna have pressure on the hospitals for some time."
But there are ways to help mitigate these issues.
"If you're vaccinated, still mask and socially distance," he said. "If you're not vaccinated, go get vaccinated, and continue masking, or we're going to be in this until 2023."