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Paramedics transport a patient to the emergency room entrance of the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The looming shortage of ventilators doesn't just impact the coronavirus patients who will need one to breathe. It also creates harrowing decisions for the health care workers who may have to decide which patients get them and which ones don't.

Between the lines: Today's doctors generally have no comparable experience to draw on for making these kinds of decisions, although accredited hospitals are supposed to have some mechanism for doing so, per NPR.

By the numbers: When the coronavirus is at its peak around the middle of the month, U.S. hospitals will be about 25,000 ventilators short of expected demand, according to one estimate, the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • Yes, but: Doctors and other health care workers are doing everything they can to stretch limited resources, including attaching more than one patient to a single ventilator and converting anesthesia machines to serve as ventilators.

The bottom line: If the numbers bear out, health care workers will still likely have to make horrible decisions about who receives a ventilator and who doesn't — decisions that mean life or death for patients.

  • In Italy, the situation deteriorated to the point where doctors were advised to prioritize younger, healthier patients, per Politico.

Case in point: NYU Langone Health told emergency room doctors last month that they have "sole discretion" to place patients on ventilators, and that the hospital supports withholding "futile intubations," WSJ writes.

What to watch: New York City could run out of ventilators by Tuesday or Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said yesterday, per WSJ.

Go deeper

Updated 12 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

13 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.