coronavirus

By the Numbers: SD’s Hospital Bed Count Too Low for Number of Potential Coronavirus Patients

The sobering numbers serve as an important reminder of why protective measures like self-quarantines and social distancing are critical for treating the virus

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Hospitals in San Diego County don’t have anywhere near the number of beds needed to care for potential coronavirus patients should the virus infection rate reach projected numbers.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports a recent study for the American Hospital Association estimates the virus will infect 30 percent of the population. In our county, that means a little more than 1 million people are likely to get sick.

Out of the 55 positive coronavirus patients announced Monday by county officials, 8 have been hospitalized. That's a hospitalization rate of 15 percent. If that rate continues, roughly 150,000 San Diegans could get so sick they will need to go to a hospital.

But our county hospitals only have enough beds for a fraction of them. It's possible local coronavirus cases could outnumber hospital beds by 30 to 1.

NBC 7 Investigates analyzed the number of beds hospitals reported to the state. We only counted acute care and intensive care unit beds – as those are the beds most appropriate to treat potential coronavirus patients.   

Beds in the NICU, for example, would not work for treating virus patients, so NBC 7 Investigates didn't count them.

In all, there are 5,107 acute and intensive care hospital beds in San Diego County, not including beds at Veterans Affairs or Naval hospitals.

Here are the number of beds for the big four area hospitals:

  • Scripps Health: 1,225 beds
  • Sharp: 1,023
  • UCSD Health: 545
  • Kaiser Permanente; 438 beds

The sobering numbers serve as an important reminder of why protective measures like self-quarantines and social distancing are critical for treating the virus. The slower the infection curve, the less likely patients will exceed hospital bed capacity.

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