Mar 12, 2020 - Health

Hospitals' next steps for coronavirus influx

Hospitals are dusting off their pandemic preparedness plans in anticipation of overcrowded waiting rooms and supply shortages as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread.

The big picture: Hospitals are preparing for tens of millions of cases and millions of hospitalizations from COVID-19.

"One of our tasks is to make sure that we get the right care to the right patient at the right time and that means keeping the worried well and the mildly ill out of our emergency departments and clinics where they might not need to be and they might cause exposures to people who are there for other medical reasons, and also kind of clog the system."
— Lisa Maragakis, associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School os Medicine

By the numbers… In a survey of 6,500 nurses from the National Nurses United:

  • 19% report their employer has a policy to address employees with suspected or known exposure to novel coronavirus. 43% don't know.
  • 44% report their employer has provided them information about novel coronavirus.
  • 30% say their employer has sufficient PPE stock on hand to protect staff if there is a rapid surge in patients with possible coronavirus infections.

What they’re doing: Hospitals and clinicians are exploring ways to delay an inevitable influx of patients by pushing in-home care, and possibly limiting elective surgeries.

  • EvergreenHealth hospital in Kirkland, Washington has been rationing supplies like goggles and overworking staff across all departments while caring for nearly 70 patients, the New York Times reports.
  • Massachusetts General Hospital doctors are pushing for pop-up clinics and more testing, the Washington Post reports.
  • Johns Hopkins University is looking to turn entire medical units into a respiratory isolation unit for patients.

Overseas: Doctors in the United Kingdom are stressing how ill-prepared its hospitals are if they reach capacity, — as has happened in Italy, the New York Times reports.

A leaked slide from an American Hospital Association presentation in February shows the hospital system is expecting an impact 10 times more severe than flu season. That could include:

  • 4.8 million hospitalizations
  • 96 million cases overall
  • 480,000 deaths

Go deeper: Full coronavirus coverage

Go deeper

Why the U.S. doesn't have more hospital beds

Adapted from OECD; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The shortage of hospital beds in the U.S. didn't happen by accident. It's a result of both market pressures and public policy.

Why it matters: The bed shortage is one of many factors complicating America's response to the new coronavirus. But if we want to have more beds and critical equipment on hand for the next pandemic, the government will need to make it happen — and pay for it.

Go deeperArrowMar 30, 2020 - Health

The race to make more masks and ventilators

Fabric cutouts that will become masks are lined up at Xtreme Pro Apparel on March 23 in Broomfield, Colo. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post

The U.S. is scouring the globe and leaning on non-medical manufacturers to help overcome shortages of ventilators, masks, gloves and gowns.

Why it matters: Nearly 90% of U.S. mayors who responded to a national survey on coronavirus preparedness said they lack sufficient tests kits, face masks and other protective equipment for their emergency responders and medical workers, the Washington Post reports.

Go deeperArrowMar 28, 2020 - Health

Washington state officials confirm second coronavirus death in U.S.

Coronavirus contained within the endoplasmatic reticulum of a vero E6 cell. Photo: BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

A second person has died in the U.S. from the novel coronavirus — and just like the first one, it's in Washington state, King County Public Health confirmed in a statement Sunday night.

The big picture: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) declared a state of emergency Sunday in response to new infections in the state. Washington now has 13 cases. Several of those infected are from the Life Care Center of Kirkland nursing home. Unlike the first coronavirus death in the U.S., the man in his 70s with underlying health conditions who died on Saturday was a resident of the home. Both patients died in EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland.

Go deeper: Washington state officials confirm first coronavirus death in U.S.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details, including Washington case numbers.