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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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There's a growing fear the U.S. will have to ration hospital beds like Iran or Italy (above). Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Every corner of the U.S. is at risk for a severe shortage of hospital beds as the coronavirus outbreak worsens, according to new simulations from Harvard, mapped out by ProPublica and the New York Times.

Why it matters: Total nationwide capacity for health care supplies doesn't always matter, because hospitals in one area can help out neighboring systems when they're overwhelmed by a crisis. But these projections indicate that won't be an option with the coronavirus — everybody will be hurting at the same time.

By the numbers: Harvard's projections show if 50% of all currently occupied hospital beds were emptied and sizable percentages of Americans were infected, the country would need at least three times more beds to care for everyone.

  • "No market would be spared," Harvard's Ashish Jha wrote.

Those models line up with James Lawler, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center who forecasted in a recent presentation to hospital insiders that the U.S. may eventually have as many as 96 million cases, resulting in 4.8 million hospitalizations. He told Axios he stands by those projections.

  • The U.S. has 924,000 total hospital beds, or less than three beds for every 1,000 people. Roughly 5% of those beds are in standard intensive care units, where the sickest coronavirus patients would need to go.

Hospitals closures have laid a groundwork that could make this problem worse, reducing the total capacity in a given area while shifting more patients into the hospitals that remain.

  • For example, after Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia closed last year, surrounding hospitals had to take on those patients and don't have a lot of room for a coronavirus surge.
  • "That [closure] has put a particular strain on the regional health care system," said Darilyn Moyer, the head of the American College of Physicians who works at Temple University's health system.

The bottom line: "I don't think our health system is prepared," Lawler said. "If we can reduce the surge, we can potentially help our hospitals, but they have a long way to go."

Go deeper: The coronavirus crisis has to focus on "flattening the curve"

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Axios AM Deep Dive: Covid forever

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It was 563 days ago that the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by healthcare reporter Caitlin Owens, looks at our Covid future.

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court judge on Friday temporarily blocked New York City schools from enforcing a vaccine mandate for school employees, days before it was set to take effect, AP reports.

Driving the news: The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.