ICU Beds in the US: Explore a Map of Coronavirus Readiness

COVID-19 has caused chaos and mass disruption in the lives of everyone around the world, especially those in major cities. In the U.S., New York City accounts for over 70% of the state’s coronavirus deaths. Yet some cities in the U.S. are better equipped to handle the sudden influx of severely ill patients than others. Part of a city’s pandemic response depends on the number of available intensive care units—or ICU—beds. ICU beds are reserved for patients with severe or life-threatening illnesses—like COVID-19—and injuries. These patients require constant medical attention, which they’ll get in an ICU.

There are roughly 93,000 ICU beds in the U.S. and they are differently distributed around the country’s cities. Each city’s ICU data is available as the number of ICU beds per 10,000 people older than 15. The U.S.’s national average is 3.6 beds per 10,000 people. Several states also have over five cities with more than average number of ICU beds. Others aren’t as prepared. There are some clear regional differences in ICUs, which we can see thanks to BatchGeo’s automatic ranges on the map below.

View ICU beds by city in a full screen map

We gathered this ICU data in late March 2020 from The Washington Post. In areas where more beds are needed, regional governments may be working to improve the situation. That said, this map helps show preparedness as the outbreak ramped up. To take into account the differing populations of these cities, the data was gathered as number of ICU beds per 10,000 people. Let’s discover the cities with the most—and the least—beds available.

Ten Cities With the Most and Least ICU Beds

With patients facing severe or life-threatening illnesses and injuries—COVID-19 related or not—the more ICU beds available, the faster and better care they receive. While the U.S.’s national average is about 3.6 ICU beds per 10,000 patients, the following cities have ICU beds nearly double that. Out of the 307 cities with accessible ICU data, the ten below are home to the most ICU beds.

City State ICU beds per 10,000
AUGUSTA GA 7.2 (*tie*)
FLORENCE SC 7.2 (*tie*)
HUNTINGTON WV 7.2 (*tie*)
LONGVIEW TX 6.5 (*tie*)
LUBBOCK TX 6.5 (*tie*)

As you can see on the table, Slidell, Louisiana is the city containing the most ICUs. With 10.6 beds per 10,000 people, Slidell can offer care-seeking patients 3.1x as many ICU beds per 10,000 people than even the second-best city. That second-best city is Duluth, Minnesota, which offers 7.5 ICU beds for every 10,000 patients. Next comes Augusta, Georgia, Florence, South Carolina, and Huntington, West Virginia. These Southeastern cities offer the same number of ICU beds (7.2) per 10,000 people.

Rochester, Minnesota has 6.9 beds available per 10,000 folks and frankly, we’ve decided to move there. Following Rochester are Birmingham, Alabama, Longview and Lubbock, Texas, and Durham, North Carolina, which all are just below seven beds per 10,000 people. Note that like Minnesota, Texas also has two cities in the top ten. Other than those four Minnesota and Texas cities, the top ten consists of cities located in the Southeastern states of Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Alabama, and North Carolina.

To view more cities with lots of ICU beds per 10,000 patients, check out the map. For now, let’s move on from the best cities to the worst cities.

Cities With Very Few ICUs

While the cities with the most ICU beds may occasionally see one or two beds go unneeded, cities with few ICUs aren’t likely to have any to spare. The following ten cities could really use some more ICU beds, especially as we combat the coronavirus.

City State ICU beds per 10,000
DUBUQUE IA 1.4 (*tie*)
SANTA CRUZ CA 1.4 (*tie*)
WICHITA FALLS TX 1.5 (*tie*)
EVERETT WA 1.5 (*tie*)
MODESTO CA 1.7 (*tie*)
LAFAYETTE IN 1.7 (*tie*)
MASON CITY IA 1.7 (*tie*)
PONTIAC Ml 1.7 (*tie*)
HACKENSACK NJ 1.7 (*tie*)
MORRISTOWN NJ 1.7 (*tie*)

As the table above depicts, Fort Collins, Colorado has exactly one ICU bed for every 10,000 patients—not the most comforting thing to hear in the middle of a pandemic. Following Fort Collins are Dubuque, Iowa and Santa Cruz, California, both of which can offer patients 1.4 ICU beds per 10,000. And Dubuque isn’t the only city in Iowa with a significantly low number of ICU beds. Mason City, Iowa has just 1.7 ICU beds per 10,000 patients. Along with Iowa, California also has two cities in the bottom 10, as does New Jersey. It’s time for these cities to step up their ICU game, especially during these trying times.

In some cases, residents of cities with few ICU beds may be able to be transferred to other areas. It can be useful to look beyond the city level to see which states offer the greatest—and least—ICU protection.

States With the Most and Least Cities Above Average

Nine states contain five or more cities with greater ICU bed amounts than the national average. In these states, extremely ill or injured patients have better chances to gain access to an ICU bed.

  • Texas – (14)
  • Florida – (13)
  • Ohio – (7)
  • Tennessee – (6)
  • Michigan – (6)
  • Louisiana – (6)
  • Indiana – (6)
  • North Carolina – (5)
  • Illinois – (5)

Fourteen cities in Texas have more ICU beds than the national average. These include previously-mentioned cities like Longview and Lubbock, along with Abilene, McAllen, Amarillo, San Antonio, Tyler, Victoria, Fort Worth, Dallas, Harlington, Corpus Christi, Houston, and Temple, Texas. Florida is similar to Texas in that it has 13 cities above the national average for ICU beds. These 13 cities are Ormond Beach, Gainesville, St. Petersburg, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, Hudson, Orlando, Panama City, Sarasota, Tampa, Clearwater, Miami, and Pensacola.

Ohio is home to the third-most cities above average: seven. Cities like Toledo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton, Akron, Canton, and Kettering all have more ICU beds per 10,000 people than the nation’s average of 3.6 beds. To see the cities above average in Tennessee, Michigan, and the states on the list, click through the map. Inversely, the map can also help you identify the states with the most cities below average, though they’re also listed below.

States Below National Average

On the opposite end of the healthcare spectrum, there are a lot more states with five or more cities containing ICU beds below that of the national average (3.6 ICU beds per 10,000 people). These states are:

  • California – (21)
  • Pennsylvania – (10)
  • New York – (10)
  • Michigan – (9)
  • Texas – (8)
  • Illinois – (8)
  • Virginia – (7)
  • Wisconsin – (6)
  • Washington – (6)
  • Iowa – (6)
  • Oregon – (5)
  • New Jersey – (5)
  • Georgia – (5)
  • Florida – (5)
  • Colorado – (5)

Twenty-one cities in California have ICU beds below the national average. You may also note that Texas, Michigan, Illinois, and Florida appear on both the top and the bottom list. These states are home to both a large number of cities above and below national average. To see the many cities below national average in the other 13 states, take a peek at the map.

Regional Differences in U.S. ICUs

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

There are a lot of ways to analyze this data. Just browsing the map, we see regional differences in ICUs thanks to BatchGeo’s automatic ranges. When sorting the map by range to identify the ten cities with the most ICU beds (“10.6-6.1”), we see that the majority of these cities are based in the Southeast or the Midwest, along with the three cities in Texas that represent the Southwest. There is not one city in the West that is in the highest range of ICU beds. Even when we add the next-highest range to our sorting of the map (“6-5.1”), we see the same pattern: cities in the Southeast and the Midwest have more ICU beds.

When mapmaking with BatchGeo, our mapping tool automatically organizes any data not related to location into useful ranges that help with sorting your maps. You get the benefit of additional insight into your data, not just by visualizing it geographically, but also by sorting your map by the different ranges. Get started with BatchGeo today for free.