SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Taryn Vian, public health professor at USF, says California’s early and aggressive shelter-in-place orders may help spare the state’s healthcare system from running out of hospital beds during the projected peak of the coronavirus.
“They are predicting that we would not have shortages of regular or ICU beds, even at the peak,” Vian told KPIX during a Skype interview.
But Vian still cautions that though the healthcare system currently seems like it will be able to handle the peak–expected later in April–it will still be under enormous strain.
“There is an issue of where those beds are and are they in the right place. As a whole across the state, I think we probably have enough ICU beds. But the question is, ‘Will they be in the places where we have the patients coming in?'” Vian said.
She added that shifting beds, equipment or patients around the state will be a huge logistical and administrative challenge. While the state has done what it can to slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve, there may still be looming shortages of ventilators and other essential equipment.
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Nurses and doctors across the state have pleaded for more personal protective equipment (PPE) such as protective masks and face shields as they face the virus every day.
Some hospitals have already begun to ration equipment, hoping to extend the dwindling stockpiles.
“I think the sooner we have information about how that affects the transmission of the virus and how dangerous that is getting that information to people is important, so they don’t feel like every choice they make is endangering their lives,” Vian said.