American Hospital Capacity And Projected Need for COVID-19 Patient Care

The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is rapidly spreading throughout the world. In the United States, the disease is expected to infect 20-60 percent of the population before the pandemic finishes its course. The recent experience in Italy has highlighted the critical need to ensure adequate capacity of inpatient and intensive care beds for what is likely to be a surge of seriously ill patients.

To assess the capacity of U.S. hospitals to care for the impending number of hospitalized patients, we merged hospital infrastructure data from the 2018 American Hospital Association (AHA) Annual Survey and the American Hospital Directory to estimate inpatient and intensive care unit bed capacity in non-federal acute-care hospitals overall in the US and in each of the 306 hospital referral regions. We calculated average inpatient and ICU occupancy rates from annualized inpatient bed days. We used population estimates from the U.S. Census American Communities Survey to project likely numbers of infected patients, hospitalization rates and ICU utilization rates based on existing data from recently published reports. We adjusted these rates across communities by proportion of people who were age 65 or over, as data suggests that hospitalization rates vary by age.

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