States, hospitals prepare for surge in COVID-19 patients

Coronavirus Michigan nurse demonstrates in viral video how fast germs can spread

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Some states have ramped up their ICU and bed capacity to prepare for an expected surge in patients with the coronavirus.

Lawmakers work with health professionals to sort through the data and determine how many people are expected to be infected and how much space is needed to care for them.

"The key is coordination and communication,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, President of the American Medical Association (AMA). “This is about preparing and using the data regarding the incidents of the disease and how many folks are requiring ICU beds and how many folks are requiring ventilators.”

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We looked into how states are getting ready for a potential patient surge.

“The Administration is aiming to find or build an additional 750-1000 beds in field medical hospitals and other alternate care sites to reduce strain on hospitals as much as possible," said Gov. Charlie Baker (R-Massachusetts).

Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee and other states have identified alternative sites to hold patients such as convention centers.

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) listed Seagate Convention Center, Dayton Convention Center and Covelli Convention Center as sites that have been selected to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health said public and private health care facilities work together to send their resources to the areas most in need through health care coalitions.

In New York, where the city and downstate have been deemed the epicenter, officials created a surge space capacity task force.

New York has also utilized alternative sites to care for COVID-19 patients.

The AMA said it’s critical for all states to determine how to meet their needs.

"It’s so much better to be prepared and know that in the worst-case scenario, you might need to use 100 beds than to get in that worst-case scenario and not have 100 beds because by then it will be too late,” Harris said.