As noted in “About 2.5 percent of Boston hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients”, it is tough to find out the information that is most relevant to a worried individual, i.e., how full are the hospitals? (and, therefore, will they run out of space/beds before I need one?).
New York is the epicenter of the U.S. epidemic. The “how full” percentage can be teased out of a CNBC article from yesterday:
New York coronavirus cases continue to surge, topping 37,258 on Thursday as the state scrambles to find enough hospital beds and ventilators to handle the coming onslaught of patients, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
More than 5,300 residents have already been hospitalized and the state is projecting that will climb to 140,000 over the next two to three weeks, he said. At least 1,517 people have been discharged, he added.
In other words, there are about 3,800 COVID-19 patients in New York hospitals right now. What’s the capacity? A separate web search yields the answer: 57,261. So roughly 6.6 percent of New York’s hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients.
The situation is described in our media as a crisis, e.g., “13 Deaths in a Day: An ‘Apocalyptic’ Coronavirus Surge at an N.Y.C. Hospital”. Maybe that’s not an exaggeration, though. If the system into which we pour 17 percent of GDP (maybe more like 25 percent in 2020!) was already stretched, perhaps the breeze of 6.6 percent additional demand blew it over.
Will the surge of 140,000 show up? If these are mostly in the same week that would certainly be ugly in a state with 57,261 hospital beds (the president that New Yorkers hate is sending one of the Navy’s two hospital ships to NYC, but that will add only 1,000 beds). But why do they have to stay in New York? U.S. case statistics show that Pennsylvania has only 2,218 cases (1/20th as many as New York) and 42,817 beds. Even if coronavirus were to affect all states equally it won’t affect them all at the same time, right? Could this be a case where diversity is our strength? Prepare some ambulance buses to take 10-20 patients at a time to wherever there is significant excess capacity, even if that is across a state line. If Pennsylvania ever does get into a Wuhan-on-the-Hudson scenario, New York’s peak demand will be over at that point and New York hospitals can return the favor by taking Pennsylvania residents in.
- World Bank data on hospital beds per 1,000 people (Japan and Korea at more than 13; Germany at 8.3; France at 6.5; Spain, Italy, and the U.S. around 3)
- As of today, we have no idea what the prevalence of coronavirus infection is in the U.S. Out of every 100,000 people we have tested fewer than 600 (nytimes). This is not a random sample either, but typically people who are hospitalized (or elites with the sniffles!).