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llustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Hospitals have been clearing beds to care for the influx of coronavirus patients, but there's a looming capacity and equipment problem for the vast majority of patients who recover and need to be discharged to another facility.

Reality check: "I don't know that there's a nursing home in the country right now that is really able to admit an individual who is COVID-19-positive," said David Grabowski, a Harvard professor who studies post-acute care.

The big picture: Millions of people with chronic health conditions get care through home health agencies, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and long-term hospitals.

  • A flood of coronavirus patients who need extra care in these places after a hospital stay would put a strain on the system.
  • Many nursing homes, which have poor track records with infection control, will be in the spotlight after the federal government relaxed regulations for how quickly they could admit patients from hospitals.
  • Nursing homes also are especially vulnerable places for the disease to spread and kill: The epicenter of the U.S. outbreak was a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington.

What's next: Grabowski and many other post-acute experts are warning that precautions must be taken.

  • Every patient who is discharged from a hospital to another care facility, regardless if they had COVID-19, should get tested for COVID-19.
  • Low-income workers at these facilities will need more paid sick leave, and they will need more protective gear to prevent the spread.
  • States should create specialized post-hospital facilities that only house COVID-19 patients to keep the risk of spread lower — something that Connecticut and Massachusetts are already doing.

The bottom line: Hospitals have invested a lot of time and resources into freeing up beds, expanding intensive care units and acquiring ventilators. The same thinking should apply for care that's needed after the hospital.

Go deeper

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

9 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.