Coronavirus analysis shows all hospital beds in the U.S. could be filled with patients ‘by about May 8th’

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A sobering analysis of how coronavirus is likely to impact the US healthcare system suggests that hospitals will be quickly overwhelmed with patients, and that all available beds will be filled by around May 8th if the virus tracks with Italy’s figures and 10% of patients require an ICU.

  • We can expect that we’ll continue to see a doubling of cases every 6 days (this is a typical doubling time across several epidemiological studies). Here I mean *actual* cases. Confirmed cases may appear to rise faster in the short term due to new test kit rollouts.
  • We’re looking at about 1M US cases by the end of April, 2M by ~May 5, 4M by ~May 11, and so on. Exponentials are hard to grasp, but this is how they go.
  • As the healthcare system begins to saturate under this case load, it will become increasingly hard to detect, track, and contain new transmission chains. In absence of extreme interventions, this likely won’t slow significantly until hitting >>1% of susceptible population.
  • What does a case load of this size mean for healthcare system? We’ll examine just two factors — hospital beds and masks — among many, many other things that will be impacted.
  • The US has about 2.8 hospital beds per 1000 people. With a population of 330M, this is ~1M beds. At any given time, 65% of those beds are already occupied. That leaves about 330k beds available nationwide (perhaps a bit fewer this time of year with regular flu season, etc).
  • Let’s trust Italy’s numbers and assume that about 10% of cases are serious enough to require hospitalization. (Keep in mind that for many patients, hospitalization lasts for *weeks* — in other words, turnover will be *very* slow as beds fill with COVID19 patients).
  • By this estimate, by about May 8th, all open hospital beds in the US will be filled. (This says nothing, of course, about whether these beds are suitable for isolation of patients with a highly infectious virus.)
  • If we’re wrong by a factor of two regarding the fraction of severe cases, that only changes the timeline of bed saturation by 6 days in either direction. If 20% of cases require hospitalization, we run out of beds by ~May 2nd.
  • If only 5% of cases require it, we can make it until ~May 14th. 2.5% gets us to May 20th. This, of course, assumes that there is no uptick in demand for beds from *other* (non-COVID19) causes, which seems like a dubious assumption.
  • As healthcare system becomes increasingly burdened, Rx shortages, etc, people w/ chronic conditions that are normally well-managed may find themselves slipping into severe states of medical distress requiring intensive care & hospitalization. But let’s ignore that for now.
  • Alright, so that’s beds. Now masks. Feds say we have a national stockpile of 12M N95 masks and 30M surgical masks (which are not ideal, but better than nothing).
  • There are about 18M healthcare workers in the US. Let’s assume only 6M HCW are working on any given day. (This is likely an underestimate as most people work most days of the week, but again, I’m playing conservative at every turn.)
  • As COVID19 cases saturate virtually every state and county, which seems likely to happen any day now, it will soon be irresponsible for all HCWs to not wear a mask. These HCWs would burn through N95 stockpile in 2 days if each HCW only got ONE mask per day.
  • One per day would be neither sanitary nor pragmatic, though this is indeed what we saw in Wuhan, with HCWs collapsing on their shift from dehydration because they were trying to avoid changing their PPE suits as they cannot be reused.
  • How quickly could we ramp up production of new masks? Not very fast at all. The vast majority are manufactured overseas, almost all in China. Even when manufactured here in US, the raw materials are predominantly from overseas… again, predominantly from China.
  • Keep in mind that all countries globally will be going through the exact same crises and shortages simultaneously. We can’t force trade in our favor.
  • Now consider how these 2 factors – bed and mask shortages – compound each other’s severity. Full hospitals + few masks + HCWs running around between beds without proper PPE = very bad mix.
  • HCWs are already getting infected even w/ access to full PPE. In the face of PPE limitations this severe, it’s only a matter of time. HCWs will start dropping from the workforce for weeks at a time, leading to a shortage of HCWs that then further compounds both issues above.  –Zero Hedge

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This entry was posted in Black Swan Event, Catastrophic Insurance losses mount, Civilizations unraveling, Disease outbreak, Earth Changes, Emerging disease threat, Extinction Threat, High-risk potential hazard zone, Infrastructure collapse, Martial Law, New virus reported, Pestilence Watch, Quarantine and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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