An elderly man in Alabama died after being turned away from 43 hospitals across three US states that had no ICU beds due to COVID, his family told local media.
Ray DeMonia, 73, was an antiques dealer. He suffered a cardiac emergency last month and was forced to spend his last days almost 350 kms away from his home in Cullman as no ICU beds were available in nearby hospital due to a surge in coronavirus cases.
"Due to COVID 19, CRMC emergency staff contacted 43 hospitals in 3 states in search of a Cardiac ICU bed and finally located one in Meridian, MS.," DeMonia's obituary reads, referring to the Cullman Regional Medical Center.
"In honor of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non COVID related emergencies ... ," the obituary reads. "He would not want any other family to go through what his did."
A spokesperson for Cullman Regional Medical Center told NPR that DeMonia was transferred from the hospital as he required "a higher level of specialized care not available" there.
Hospitals in the United States are in a breaking point as the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus spreads. Although a few people infected after vaccination do require hospitalisation, a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that people who are not vaccinated against the virus are far more likely to become infected, to be hospitalized and to die from the deadly virus.
"Looking at cases over the past two months, when the delta variant was the predominant variant circulating in this country, those who were unvaccinated were about 4 1/2 times more likely to get COVID-19, over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die from the disease," the study said.