(Bloomberg) -- Southern Illinois is reporting zero available intensive-care unit beds for the second straight day due to an overwhelming influx of Covid-19 positive patients, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Monday was the first time any region of the state has run out of the beds, according to the health department. Region 5, which is made up of the state’s 20 southernmost counties, reported Monday and Tuesday that zero of its total ICU beds were available, according to the latest update. About 40% of staffed ICU beds in the region are occupied by COVID-19 patients, Melaney Arnold, a spokesperson for the department, said in an email. Bed usage released by the health department is based on daily counts that hospitals report and may be subject to change.

The Southern region’s 7-day rolling average Covid-19 test positivity rate was 10.2% as of Sept. 12, according to the health department. Region 5 has the lowest vaccination rates across the state, leaving its 400,000 citizens much more vulnerable to this onslaught of cases, according to Arien Herrmann, regional hospital coordinating center manager for the area. Not only do Covid-19 patients suffer, but patients with other needs are experiencing long delays for treatment, he said.

To relieve the strain on the health-care system, the department has taken several emergency actions to redirect patients to other facilities and fulfill staffing needs, but these are only temporarily fixes. By the end of the week, the state’s health department will have deployed more than 100 health-care staff to hospitals in region 5, according to Arnold. It also got federal approval to use three U.S. Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center medical and ICU beds for the next month. 

Statewide, there were 527 ICU beds available as of late Tuesday. Health officials strongly urge residents to get vaccinated to prevent further ICU shortages.

“Illinoisans need to follow the commonsense mitigations in place to stop the spread and stem the tide of hospitalizations due to COVID-19,” Arnold said in an email. “Getting vaccinated is crucial to reducing the burden on our health care and hospital systems.”

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