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As COVID-19 cases spike across the country due to the highly contagious Delta variant, healthcare facilities in many states are running out of room in their intensive care units (ICU)s. In addition to limiting hospitals’ ability to treat COVID patients, the lack of ICU beds also reduces the care available to individuals requiring other emergency and intensive care services.

As of August 5, Mississippi has only 6 open ICU beds, Arkansas has 25 and the Austin metro area has 13. New COVID cases have risen 138%, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that the Delta variant is responsible for more than 83% of these infections. The CDC described this variant as more contagious than the common cold or flu and as equally as transmissible as chickenpox, according to the New York Times.

Because of the new surge in cases as well as the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant, healthcare facilities are more at risk than ever of contributing to the spread of COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is most commonly transmitted through large respiratory droplets emitted when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exerts heavily. However, evidence has shown that the disease is also airborne, meaning that it spreads through tiny particles that linger in the air or travel across distances greater than 6 feet in an enclosed space. That means that hospital staff, patients and visitors, are at risk of spreading and contracting COVID-19 if proper airborne infection control methods are not taken.

Every year, hospitals and healthcare facilities undergo a process to assess their infection control parameters and controls. The report generated from this process helps hospitals discover gaps in their infrastructure and protocol. However, there are several shortcomings of the current system for auditing and reporting, including the fact that most airborne infection control reports only measure the “critical areas” of a facility—which typically amount to 15-20% of a building. This leaves healthcare facilities open and vulnerable to Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI), which affect 1 in 31 hospital patients at any given time, according to the CDC.

It is imperative that healthcare facilities improve their ability to identify and mitigate airborne infection risk. To find out how Life Balance is helping hospitals do so faster, more effectively, and with less cost, visit our Software Page.