Predicting Hospital Capacity as the Coronavirus Spreads
Teams from ProPublica and the Harvard Global Health Institute have analyzed and produced data visualizations on hospital capacity and readiness in communities across the country. The scenarios look at 20 percent, 40 percent, and 60 percent infection rates as well as spreading of the virus over periods of 6 months, 12 months, and 18 months.
"Even in a best-case scenario, with cases of coronavirus spread out over 18 months, American hospital beds would be about 95% full. (This assumes that hospitals don’t free up already occupied beds or add more beds, as some elected officials have called for.) Some regions would have the capacity to handle the surge in hospitalizations without adding new beds or displacing other patients," write Annie Waldman, Al Shaw, Ash Ngu, and Sean Campbell.
At the other end of the spectrum is the possibility of a high infection rate coupled with a shorter duration of spreading. "In the researchers’ worst-case scenario — if 60% of the population falls sick and the virus spreads within six months — the nation would require more than seven times the number of available hospital beds that it currently has," they report.
The article includes a feature that generates specific figures on hospital beds available, the projected number of coronavirus patients, and the number of additional hospital beds that will be needed for a particular city or region. The authors also take a closer look at the situations in different areas, urban and rural, and the challenges hospital facilities will face as the pandemic continues.