Arkansas hospital shows grim picture inside its COVID-19 ICU

An Arkansas hospital shared an in-depth look at the devastation inside its ICU during the latest COVID-19 surge.

Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas in Rogers posted the video to its Facebook page on August 9.

The video featured Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sonal Bhakta discussing and showing two critically ill patients with their faces blurred. 

According to Bhakta, one patient is a 50-year-old father who works as a law enforcement officer. Another patient is a 40-year-old father who serves as president of a non-profit organization. 

Both patients were unvaccinated, according to the hospital. 

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"As we continue to pray for all COVID-19 patients, we want to introduce you to these two unvaccinated dads, each from very different walks of life, but whose paths led them to the same intensive care unit at Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas," the hospital posted on Facebook.

According to the state health department, 524 coronavirus patients are in intensive care as of Wednesday. On Monday, the state reached another new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Arkansas’ virus cases and hospitalizations have skyrocketed in recent weeks because of the ultra-contagious delta variant and the state’s low vaccination rate. Arkansas ranks fourth in the country for new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

The hospitalizations spiked as the school year began for thousands of students, most of whom will be required to wear a mask following moves by dozens of districts after a judge blocked the state’s mask mandate.

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At least 70 public school districts and charter schools have imposed mask requirements after a judge temporarily blocked the law. The requirements will cover at least half of the state’s 473,000 public school students. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Friday she’s appealing the ruling against the mandated ban.

"As many children across Arkansas head back to school today, I am praying for a safe and productive year," Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has said he regrets signing the ban into law, tweeted Monday. The governor has said he agreed with the judge’s decision.

State health officials said more than 1.1 million residents who are age 12 or older are fully vaccinated, representing 44.1% of the demographic.

RELATED: COVID-19 hospitalizations hit record high among 30 to 39-year-olds, CDC tracker shows

U.S. health officials announced plans on Wednesday to offer COVID-19 booster shots to all Americans to shore up their protection amid the surging delta variant and signs that the vaccines’ effectiveness is waning.

The plan, as outlined by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other top authorities, calls for an extra dose eight months after people received their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The doses could begin the week of September 20.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.