Covid is burdening U.S. hospitals with extra labor costs at the rate of about $24 billion a year, one study found

The ferocity of the delta variant surge has delivered a serious financial blow to hospital systems in parts of the country with low vaccination rates that are struggling to care for coronavirus patients, even as they combat plummeting income, reduced bailout funds and higher labor costs, the Washington Post reports.

Many hospitals in Southern states and rural areas of the country — even in states with otherwise high vaccination rates — have been forced once again to temporarily curtail elective procedures such as hip replacements that bring in the most money.

Meanwhile, rates of burnout and nurse attrition have soared at institutions with overburdened ICUs and covid-19 wards, contributing to severe labor shortages that are driving up costs for replacement workers, hospital officials said.

Hospital officials had been hoping a semblance of normalcy would return as vaccines helped beat back the spread of the coronavirus. Instead, with huge swaths of the nation resistant to shots, and delta variant driving a large wave of infection, they got what one administrator called a “triple whammy.” Hiring temporary replacement workers drove extraordinary cost increases. Vital revenue from elective surgeries evaporated. And public taxpayer supports to help providers through the crisis last year are drying up.

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