By Sharon Begley | 16 March 2020
STATS NEWS — Spurred by reports of doctors in Italy rationing ventilators for coronavirus patients and of overwhelmed hospitals throughout Europe, data scientists have built a mathematical model to help hospitals forecast what they might be facing in the days or weeks to come, based in part on the number of Covid-19 cases in their area.
That model, first offered to administrators at University of Pennsylvania hospitals, shows they could exceed capacity within weeks but, crucially, that social distancing measures now being implemented could avert that, a clear demonstration of the power of countermeasures being adopted by elected officials and others.
“The intention is to see what the capacity requirements for hospitalization, intensive care, and ventilators might be,” said Penn data scientist Corey Chivers. “The more we can get a handle on whether capacity is too low for what an area can expect, the more a hospital system can take steps” to address that shortfall. …
Any hospital can use the Penn model by entering how many confirmed Covid-19 cases are in the region it draws patients from and how many inpatients it is currently treating, to see what might be in store and compare that to its capacity. Already, hospital systems are postponing elective surgeries, asking cancer patients to reschedule regular checkups (not treatment), and taking other steps to reduce demands on doctors and nurses so they can handle Covid-19 cases. […]
Fast Facts on U.S. Hospitals, 2020
Total No. of all U.S. hospitals: 6,146
Total staffed beds in all U.S. hospitals: 924,107
Total No. of coronavirus cases in the U.S. on March 20, 2020: 14,250
Total No. of coronavirus cases in the U.S. requiring hospitalization: Unknown/Unreported