The demand for beds and ventilators in U.S. hospital intensive care units will far exceed capacity for COVID-19 patients as early as the second week of April, according to a new analysis from the University of Washington.
Deaths related to the current wave of the disease are likely to persist into July, the report found, even assuming people continue to adhere to social distancing measures and other precautions advised by public health officials.
"The trajectory of the pandemic will change — and dramatically for the worse — if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions. We encourage everyone to adhere to those precautions to help save lives,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.
Many states have ordered residents to stay at home, and have closed schools and nonessential businesses for the foreseeable future.
However, President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE has said he wants to reopen at least parts of the economy by Easter, and ease restrictions in states he sees that are less at risk of an outbreak.
The forecast predicts that 41 states will need more ICU beds than they have available and that 11 states may need to increase their ICU beds by 50 percent or more to meet patient needs before the current wave of the pandemic ends.
Some states have already begun looking for ways to increase their hospital and ICU capacities, through temporary constructions and repurposing emergency rooms.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has mandated that hospitals increase capacity by at least 50 percent, and has asked them to try to increase capacity by 100 percent.
The report was released on the same day the U.S. surpassed China and Italy for the most reported coronavirus cases in the world.
As of Thursday evening, the United States was at 82,404 cases, while China was at 81,782.
Updated 10:37 p.m.