An expert has warned that the U.S. will run out of hospital beds by May 8th if coronavirus continues to spread at its current rate.

Liz Specht, the associate director of Science and Technology for the Good Food Institute, cautioned that most people were not aware of the risk of “systemic healthcare failure” from coronavirus because they simply haven’t run the numbers.

Specht, who has a PhD in biology, says to expect a doubling of cases every 6 days.

“We’re looking at about 1M US cases by the end of April, 2M by ~May 5, 4M by ~May 11, and so on. Exponentials are hard to grasp, but this is how they go,” she said.

Specht then pointed out that at this rate, hospital capacity will be exhausted within 2 months.

“The US has about 2.8 hospital beds per 1000 people. With a population of 330M, this is ~1M beds. At any given time, 65% of those beds are already occupied. That leaves about 330k beds available nationwide (perhaps a bit fewer this time of year with regular flu season, etc).”

“Let’s trust Italy’s numbers and assume that about 10% of cases are serious enough to require hospitalization. (Keep in mind that for many patients, hospitalization lasts for *weeks* — in other words, turnover will be *very* slow as beds fill with COVID19 patients).”

“By this estimate, by about May 8th, all open hospital beds in the US will be filled. (This says nothing, of course, about whether these beds are suitable for isolation of patients with a highly infectious virus.)”

She notes that even if the numbers are off by a factor of two and only 5% of cases need hospitalization, beds will still run out by May 14th.

Specht is sounding the alarm bell about the “abject refusal of many countries to adequately respond or prepare” and the empty promise that “only 2% will die” given the potential for the virus to infect billions of people.

“One more thought: you’ve probably seen multiple respected epidemiologists have estimated that 20-70% of world will be infected within the next year. If you use 6-day doubling rate I mentioned above, we land at ~2-6 billion infected by sometime in July of this year,” she concludes.


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