Like much of the world right now, in the United States the mood is somber and full of anxiety as the reality sets in of an overwhelmed healthcare system.
Hospitals already announcing shortage of crucial supplies
Hospitals on the front lines of the unfolding coronavirus pandemic have already announced that they are running short on crucial supplies. This is just as the first wave of those infected with the coronavirus have started to enter the healthcare system.
Nearly 9,500 confirmed cases in the United States as of early Thursday morning, and this number is growing at an astounding rate.
Bipartisan approach to the pandemic
For the first time in years, the approach from government seems to be that of solidarity as we fight a disease that does not discriminate against conservative, liberal or any other ideas or concepts that separate us.
This unified approach can be seen in the administration, both houses of congress and even at the state level. Governors of all 50 states have been cooperating with the federal government, and the Trump administration has been fully supportive of each governor, irrespective of party affiliation.
As it stands everything seems very bipartisan for the time being, as the US gears up for war with an unseen enemy.
2 Hospital Ships Deploying to California and New York
The federal government announced that it was deploying 2 hospital ships to help alleviate the strain on the healthcare system as COVID-19 patients are expected to flood the system.
Both the USNS Mercy and the USNS Comfort are being deployed to California and New York respectively.
Neither of these ships will be used as bases for treating COVID-19 patients, instead they will be used to treat other types of injuries, trauma and disease so that the overwhelmed healthcare system has a safety net while dealing with the huge influx of coronavirus patients.
Both ships are undergoing maintenance and should be ready to be deployed as soon as April.
6 months of supplies being used in 1 week
Like in much of the country, in Albany, Georgia local hospitals are going through supplies at an alarming rate. What used to be a 6 month supply is now going in 1 week.
To help curb the rate at which the masks are being used, Scott Steiner, President of Putney Health Systems, are sewing masks together in a process called “surgical sheeting.” They are saying they have 3 days of masks left.
“We have gone through five months, now six months worth of supplies in less than a week. we are scrambling.”Scott Steiner, President of Phoebe Putney Health Systems
Another hospital system, Providence St. Joseph Health System, a group of 50+ hospitals, stated, “We’ve been virtually desperate, looking under every nook and cranny, trying to find the equipment we need. “
“We literally were down to under half a day’s worth of personal protective equipment”Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, Chief Clinical Officer of Providence St. Joseph Health
Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, Chief Clinical Officer of Providence St. Joseph Health, stated that her entire hospital system of over 50 hospitals and clinics normally go through approximately 250,000 surgical masks per year. In the first quarter of this year, a single hospital is using this many.
This is just on the front side of the coronavirus pandemic and we are already exasperating the healthcare system and its supply chains.
18 months of hunkering down
According to the 103 page document obtained by Financial News, “A pandemic will last 18 months or longer and could include multiple waves of illness.”
12-18 months for a vaccine
Mark Esper, US Defense Secretary, stated in a press conference on Tuesday that the DoD believes that it should be approximately 12-18 months before a viable vaccine is developed for the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“Twelve to eighteen months, the normal course”Mark Esper, US Department of Defense
Esper did go on to say that the private sector believes that they might be able to develop a vaccine even quicker than the US military. He also stated that the US military would also offer support to private firms developing a vaccine to the virus.
Regardless of the timeline, the first wave is upon the US healthcare system, and how we handle this first wave is crucial.
If we can flatten the curve through social distancing and good hygiene, there is still a chance that we come out the other side without the tragedy that is going on in Italy and other parts of the world. We can prevent doctors from making tough choices on basically who lives and dies because there simply aren’t enough hospital beds and ventilators to go around.