Public Health

New Harvard, ProPublica Report Asks Whether Hospitals Are Ready for COVID-19

Maps and interactive data—including for the Sarasota region—show the urgency of "flattening the curve."

By Megan McDonald March 18, 2020

New data released by the Harvard Global Health Institute, in partnership with ProPublica, shows how the effects of the novel coronavirus will be felt in different regions across the country, which should be preparing the most aggressively and why it's so important to "flatten the curve."

In addition to a set of maps showing how hospitals will be affected depending on how intensely and quickly COVID-19 spreads, the interactive piece allows users to type in their address to see how many hospital beds will be needed in their region based on how infections could spread in a six-, 12- or 18-month period if 20 percent, 40 percent or 60 percent of the local population is infected. And according to the data, in the case of a moderate outbreak, Sarasota—which in 2018 had a total of 1,310 hospital beds which were 54 percent occupied, leaving just 600 open for additional patients—would need to work to expand its capacity.

"In the Sarasota, FL region, intensive care units would be especially overwhelmed and require additional capacity," the report states. "Without coronavirus patients, there are only 77 available beds on average in intensive care units, which is 3.6 times times less than what is needed to care for all severe cases." 

As of Tuesday in Florida, there are currently 289 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and there have been seven deaths. There are four cases in Sarasota County and eight in Manatee County.

To see more scenarios and read the full piece, click here.

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