Friends who work at Boston’s biggest hospitals (MGH and Brigham and Women’s) get the information that the public would surely love to have, i.e., what percentage of hospital beds are occupied by patients stricken with COVID-19. The answer as of this morning? About 2.5 percent, with perhaps an additional 2-4 percent “under investigation” (can’t get test results even for inpatients?).
Is that good news for those worried about contracting the coronavirus? Maybe not. The LA Times says that ICU beds at their hospitals were already full with non-COVID-19 patients. As you might expect from the three-month wait that was required for a non-elite to see a doctor in the U.S. in 2019, the health care system as experienced by the 99.8% did not have any headroom.
And, of course, if we believe that hospitalization follows infection by at least two weeks (but does it, on average?), the surge may be yet to come. The folks who heeded New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s March 2 call to join him in a crowded movie theater “despite Coronavirus”, and their new Tinder friends, and the new Tinder friends of those Tinder friends, may yet arrive in the ED.
Readers: Has anyone found a good source for mean time from infection to hospitalization and/or mean time from infection to requiring a ventilator? Dyson will begin cranking out ventilators by “early April” (CNN).
[Update: I talked to a physician at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Massachusetts. This serves Middlesex County, the hardest hit county in Massachusetts (a profitable place to be a family court plaintiff though; having sex with an already-married medical specialist will pay about as well as going to medical school and working as a primary care doctor). There are 179 beds, 6 of which are occupied by victims of the coronaplague (3.34 percent).]
[Update, evening 3/27, text message from friend: “I asked [physician wife] how her nurse friend is doing at the hospital. She said she has not worked in a week because the ER is so dead she can’t get hours. The hospitals are empty.”]