this could be bad
The U.S. doesn't have enough ICU beds or ventilators to deal with even a moderate coronavirus outbreak
While the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have refrained from calling the new coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, CNN started referring to it as such on Monday. And although that should not "cause panic," it does mean the U.S. needs to shore up its medical resources before things get worse, CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explained in a Monday article.
So far around the world we've seen 100,000 cases and 3,000 deaths from COVID-19, and in Gupta's opinion, that fits the CDC's definition of pandemic as "an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people." And while the government isn't using that word yet, it is admitting that coronavirus spread is a question of not if, but when.
Looking at how COVID-19 affected China can provide a preview of what it'll look like in the U.S. In China, "around 80 percent of those infected with the coronavirus had symptoms of a bad cold and are expected to recover. Another 14 percent became severely ill, and 5 percent became critically ill," Gupta writes. So according to estimates from the Department of Health and Human Services, that translates to about 200,000 people needing intensive care in the case of a moderate outbreak. That could be a big problem, seeing as the U.S. has less than 100,000 ICU beds.
An estimated 64,000 people will also need ventilators in a moderate outbreak, CNN reports, but the U.S. only has about 62,000 of those machines ready to go. It has another 8,900 in its national stockpile, but "given that this is flu season, many of those are already in use," Gupta writes. Read more about the preparedness problem at CNN.