Eric Toner, MD | March 13, 2020
My colleagues and I just submitted to medRxiv a paper on what a Wuhan-like epidemic would do to US ICUs. https://medrxiv.org/cgi/content/short/2020.03.09.20033241v1 The bottom line is that demand would far exceed capacity, and some people in need of critical care would not be able to get it. But it is not just Wuhan; Italy is currently in the midst of a similar outbreak, and critical care services are overwhelmed there, too.
The encouraging news, however, is that it seems that community mitigation strategies—such as isolating the sick, home quarantining the exposed, canceling mass gatherings, and social distancing—have worked to tamp down the height of the epidemic wave and therefore have kept the healthcare systems functional in other parts of China, Hong Kong, Singapore, SouthKorea, and Japan. But to be effective, these measures need to be vigorously implemented several weeks before hospitals become overwhelmed.