Previous: Coronavirus Update - March 7, 2020
Next: Is it safe to Walk my Dog? Why is the Fatality Rate so High? Coronavirus Q&A 3-18-2020



View count:145,784
Last sync:2024-01-27 01:15
Our message on coronavirus so far has been, "don't panic." For the vast majority of individuals, coronavirus is not an existential threat. However, the rapid rate of the virus's spread has the potential to overwhelm our health system and cause a LOT of problems.


Related HCT episodes:
1. Coronavirus Update: March 2020 -

Be sure to check out our podcast!

Other Healthcare Triage Links:
1. Support the channel on Patreon:
2. Check out our Facebook page:
3. We still have merchandise available at
4. Aaron's book "The Bad Food Bible: How and Why to Eat Sinfully" is available wherever books are sold, such as Amazon:

John Green -- Executive Producer
Stan Muller -- Director, Producer
Aaron Carroll -- Writer
Mark Olsen – Art Director
Tiffany Doherty -- Writer and Script Editor
Meredith Danko – Social Media

#healthcaretriage #healthcare #coronavirus
When it comes to coronavirus, we've been sticking to our message of don't panic!  But there is one aspect of this virus where I can tell you that fear is very reasonable; and that's the capacity of our healthcare system to deal with it.  The overall number of infections is much less of a worry than how many of these infections occur at once.  
This is Heathcare Triage news.
*intro music*
If you've been keeping up with our videos on the coronavirus, you'll know that we don't condone panic.  If you can't help but panic, we've suggested channeling it into productive behaviors; like handwashing, handwashing, and handwashing, that make a difference.
However, there's one thing for which we suggest at least deep concern; and that's the ability of out healthcare system to sustain a large and sudden imped.  You can see My Concern with this in my most recent piece with the New York Times "Here's the Biggest Thing to Worrry About With Coronavirus" 
An epidemic curve is a chart used to display the occurrence and speed of new disease cases.  It shows the number of cases over time' so during an outbreak you see peaks in the curve. A particularly steep curve is created by a large number of cases in a short period of time.
This is happening in Italy right now and it's utterly overwhelming their healthcare system. Elective surgeries are being cancelled to make way for coronavirus. In some locations, those cases are taking up more than 80% of hospital beds. Doctors from all specialities are being redirected to help deal with the influx of patients. There are more sick people than there are resources to treat them, which means doctors are being forced into making tough calls on where those resources are allocated. Without careful steps and soon, the United States may find itself in the same overwhelming shoes. Not because this virus is "Extra Deadly", but because we won't have managed it in a way that flattens the epidemic curve, in a way that slows down the spread so it doesn't hit everyone at once. "In the United States there are an average of 2.8 beds per 1,000 people. There are around 160,000 ventilators in the country. With this setup we can handle viruses like the flu over eight month periods. We cannot handle them over a period of weeks." [study source: STAT, Title: What Does The Coronavirus Mean For The U.S. Health Care System? Some Simpe Math Offers Alarming Answers.]  STAT published an excellent piece in the numbers this week, we'll link to that in the description if you're interested in a complete breakdown.
If we want to avoid that steep curve in the effect that'll have on our healthcare system and trust me, we Want to avoid it, we need to listen to the hygiene and social distancing advice dispensed by public health officials. We've been over the hygiene advice several times and I'll go over it again because it's Really Important, Wash your Hands, A lot, With soap and water, For At Least 20 seconds. Stop touching your face. Stay away from sick people. If you're the sick people, stay home if you can. 
Social distancing measures restrict social gathering to slow the spread of infectious disease, these measures include; Closing schools, working from home, cancelling large professional meetings and other events that attract large crowds and avoiding places that attract large crowds like movie theatres or malls. We've seen some of this start to happen which is a Good Thing. Many academic conferences, some of which I was going to go to, have been cancelled and universities have suspended face to face classes.
The NCAA Tournament games to be played with no audience and the NBA just suspended game-play after a player tested positive, Broadway shuttered its doors at 5 p.m on Thursday. Closing schools and working from home are much harder on some people than others, some kids rely on the food provided at school and many parents rely on school as a safe place for their kids to be while they're at work. Many people will not get Payed if they stay at home, making childcare more of a problem and forcing some people to work while sick, often in public-facing jobs. These are Difficult issues, but we've got to address them, because taking action is critical to flattening that curve. We also need to properly quarantine, to do that, we need to have an excellent handle on testing and so far, We Do Not. Listen, "Most of you watching this will be fine. But in order to protect those who won't be fine, we need to take action. And if reducing risk to others isn't enough to spur you to action, consider the consequences of not flattening this curve and then needing medical care for something else when the system is saturated with coronavirus cases." Your chances of receiving good care will be Considerably lower. Though my concern is much greater now, my advice remains the same- channel your fears into productive behaviors- but this only works if we have co-operation from everyone, including government, media, employers and individuals. And it only works if we do it Now.
Hey did you find this episode interesting -'cause no ones gonna enjoy it- you might find this other episode on coronavirus interesting as well. It also helps if you like and subscribe down below and if you support the show if you can at , we'd like to specially thank our Research Associate, Joe Sevits and of course, our Surgeon Admiral, Sam.