Archive for March, 2020

Hospitals in time of COVID-19. Flatten the curve, folks.

March 16, 2020

I read “The U.S. has about 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people (South Korea and Japan, two countries that have seemingly thwarted the exponential case growth trajectory, have more than 12 hospital beds per 1,000 people; even China has 4.3 per 1,000). With a population of 330 million, this is about 1 million hospital beds. At any given time, about 68% of them are occupied. That leaves about 300,000 beds available nationwide.”

Current need for hospital stay with COVID-19 runs about 15% and doubling of cases is expected to be 6 days with moderate control of spread. (Italy to May 14 had a doubling period of 4 days.) (https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus)

Generously (given report from incoming air passenger) assuming 6 days, that gives the USA about 4 million cases by May 13. Being generous again, allowing 10% need hospital, that leaves USA with 400,000 COVID-19 sufferers needing hospital by May 14, and over 1.2 million by May 26.  For 1 million beds.

My sympathy to all the nice people in the USA.

Sympathy, because Australia had  3.9 hospital beds per 1000 people in 2018.  Including psychiatric beds.  Sympathy, because our testing is poor, due to a shortage of materials.  Sympathy, because  the published case figures are put out without the caveat that they only test those who

  • both (a) have symptoms AND b) have been overseas in the past fortnight or in contact with a confirmed case,
  •  those who have severe community-acquired pneumania
  • Or are health care workers hospitalised with moderate to severe community-acquired pneumonia.

As  people can shed the virus while appeaing healthy, even having a heavier viral load than people with symptoms, and as some people can take over 3 weeks to show symptoms, we will have cases missed by the testing protocols.

I hope my compatriots do take all the recommended precautions, and encourage the government and businesses to take the measures taken by Singapore and Hong Kong, including temperature scans on entry to all places where people gather.

Flatten the curve, folks!

flattening-the-curve