MONROE — Thirty-nine percent of the hospital beds in Union County were occupied by COVID-19 patients as of last Monday (Jan. 4), according to a report by National Public Radio (NPR).

The information was gathered from a data release by the federal government designed to show the “toll COVID-19 is taking on health care facilities,” according to the NPR report.

The data focuses strictly on how many beds are filled with COVID patients, broken down by counties. It’s considered an indicator of the level of stress the coronavirus pandemic is putting on hospitals within a county. NPR reports that when the level of beds being used by COVID patients is above 10%, it is worthy of concern, and anything above 20% is considered “extreme stress” — based on University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. NPR reports any figure that gets near 50% puts a hospital staff under “immense stress” and that it means the hospital is overloaded.

The University of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project was used in the NPR analysis. According to the Tracking Project, N.C. counties that border Union all have significantly lower levels, but are still in the range of “extreme stress” for their hospitals; they include Cabarrus County (26%), Mecklenburg County (25%), Stanly County (24%) and Anson County (22%).

Caldwell County is at 43% and Harnett County is at 40%, making them the only two counties in the state — out of 100 — that have a higher percentage bed use for COVID patients than Union, according to the Tracking Project.

Navarro County in Texas has one of the nation’s worst conditions, with 75% of their hospitals beds being occupied by COVID patients, and Sevier County, Tenn., also ranks highly at 70%.

There were 131,195 COVID patients in hospitals across the United States as of Tuesday (Jan. 5), according to The COVID Tracking Project’s Twitter account (@COVID19Tracking). The American Hospital Association published a report in 2020 (https://www.aha.org/statistics/fast-facts-us-hospitals) that determined as of 2018, there are 924,107 hospital beds in the nation’s 6,146 hospitals. Based on those statistics, roughly 14.2% of the nation’s hospital beds were occupied by COVID patients on Jan. 5.

To learn more about NPR’s analysis of the Hospitalization Tracking Report, go to: https://www.npr.org/sections/health -shots/2020/ 12/09/944379919/new-data-reveal-which-hospitals-are-dangerously-full-is-yours