An Alabama man has died of heart failure after he was turned away by 43 hospitals, whose intensive care units were overwhelmed with COVID-10 patients amid a surge of new cases.
Emergency staff at a local hospital where Ray Martin DeMonia, 73, was admitted to reached out to 43 hospitals across three states in search of an ICU bed.
Eventually, they were able to find a bed at the Rush Foundation Hospital some 200 miles away in Meridian, Mississippi.
However, DeMonia died after suffering complications due to his cardiac arrest on September 1, three days before his 74th birthday, news media reported on Sunday.
His family said DeMonia struggled to find an empty bed due to ICUs being overrun with unvaccinated people who had contracted the coronavirus.
In DeMonia's obituary, his family pleaded with the unvaccinated Americans to get the shots in order to take the extra strain off hospital beds and prevent similar incidents in the future.
"He would not want any other family to go through what he did," his family said.
Alabama has one of the lowest COVID vaccination rates in the United States and one of the highest rates of new cases in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some disgruntled nurses in the state have protested the exhausting work conditions, and last month a doctor in Mobile made news by saying he would stop treating unvaccinated patients.
While the state is speeding up its vaccination program, some counties are still falling behind with only about 30 percent of their populations being vaccinated.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious disease expert, said this week that infection rates in the country are more than ten times higher than what they need to be for the pandemic to end.
There are currently nearly 150,000 new infections a day in the US, and “that’s not even modestly good control,” Fauci told Axios.
“In a country of our size, you can’t be hanging around and having 100,000 infections a day. You’ve got to get well below 10,000 before you start feeling comfortable,” he warned.
Case rates fell to almost that level in June when there was an average of 12,000 new infections per day.