RSV by State: These States Have the Fullest Children's Hospitals

Respiratory syncytial viral (RSV), COVID-19 and influenza are continuing to overwhelm health systems across the U.S., well before the traditional start of peak flu and RSV season.

Currently, about three-quarters of hospital beds are already full in the U.S., according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

COVID-19 cases have ticked up about 11% over the past two weeks, NBC News recently reported, and experts have said that cases will likely get even higher as more people gather indoors during the holiday season. Also, a COVID wave recently hit Europe, which could mean one is on the way in the U.S.

Influenza cases, meanwhile, are skyrocketing, with 18.22% of tests for the virus coming back positive compared to 8.16% just four weeks prior, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitalizations at this point in the season are higher than they’ve been in 10 years, driven in large part by kids. About 3,000 people, including 12 children, have died from the flu in the U.S. since October.

“We are likely to see an increase in the upcoming weeks,” Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist and team lead of the CDC’s domestic influenza surveillance team, told NBC News.

RSV by state

RSV, a virus that primarily affects kids and older adults, has been making headlines over the past few weeks because it's been causing severe illness at unprecedented levels. Several doctors have told that they've never seen such a high number of kids who've required so much medical intervention due to the virus.

While cases nationally have started trending downward, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of RSV by state are another story. California hospitals are still feeling stressed, the Los Angeles Times reported on Nov. 28. And state-level RSV data gathered by the CDC show 23 states saw increases the week of Nov. 19, the most recent one studied. (The CDC gathers the five-week average of detected RSV cases per week for most states.) These states are:

  • Oregon

  • Idaho

  • Alaska

  • Arizona

  • Montana

  • Colorado

  • South Dakota

  • Nebraska

  • Kansas

  • Iowa

  • Louisiana

  • Illinois

  • Michigan

  • Indiana

  • Ohio

  • Georgia

  • Florida

  • Vermont

  • Massachusetts

  • New York

  • Connecticut

  • New Jersey

  • West Virginia

On a national level, cases of RSV are still higher than they were in early to mid-October, when children’s hospitals first started to feel the strain of the surge, as reported at the time. What’s more, it’s unclear if the downturn will hold, as RSV typically peaks in January or February.

“Nationally, the numbers do seem to be turning down,” Dr. Ashish Jha, coordinator for the White House COVID-19 Task Force, told NBC News. “We’ll want to see over the next couple of weeks where that goes. But the preliminary evidence right now is pretty hopeful.”

Pediatric hospital beds available by state

Regardless of what happens with each individual "very contagious" virus, as Jha described them, it's clear that hospitals, especially those serving children, are overwhelmed, and parents who must take their child to one could be in for some lengthy wait times, if they can get a bed at all. previously reported that one mom waited 16 hours in an Oklahoma emergency room as her 4-year-old daughter struggled to breathe. NBC Washington spoke with a Maryland mom whose son waited a week for a bed in an intensive care unit.

NBC News is tracking the percentage and number of pediatric hospital beds that are available by state this RSV season, to get a sense of where parents need to be most vigilant about protecting kids from respiratory illnesses. RSV and flu are likely responsible for many of hospitalizations, but other conditions are contributing, too.

As of Nov. 24, about 30,000 of the country's 40,000 pediatric hospital beds were available. Five states are at 90% capacity or higher. Currently the most overwhelmed state is Maine, at 109% capacity, followed by Arizona, Minnesota, Idaho and Rhode Island.

As flu and RSV season progress, check back to see how full pediatric hospital beds are in your state.

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