How soon will we have to ration hospital care for Covid-19 patients?

(This originally appeared as a Facebook post I made, then a Twitter thread, but I decided to copy it here with some slight edits to make it easier to share and include some references.)

Indiana not only had (another) record for daily new Covid-19 cases yesterday, but we also have a record amount of people hospitalized. Don’t be surprised when you start hearing about doctors being forced to make previously unbelievable decisions like rationing patient care (read: deciding who gets to live and who gets to die).

graph of covid-19 cases in Indiana from the ISDH website
From the ISDH website

What’s even more funner is the fact that Covid-19 positivity rates are WAY up, too. What that means is that there is spread all over the place, it’s not in control, and we’ve not even begun to see the peak.

Coronavirus hasn't even begun to peak It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia gif
A live shot of Covid-19 right now

You can think of the coronavirus positivity rate this way – if you are fishing, and you throw out a net and catch only one fish, you can probably safely assume there aren’t many fish out there. But if you catch a bunch of fish in your net, it’s safe to assume there are a lot more fish out there that you’re missing.

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Higher positivity rate is NOT the result of more testing, since the more tests we do (the more “fishing nets” we throw), the less virus we should find. A higher positivity rate actually means we’re not testing enough (we only broke 1 million daily tests in September, and have never done more than 1.5 million daily tests in a single day – experts have said we need to be doing at least 5 million tests each day).

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center daily covid testing trend graph
From the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

I am fucking tired of this Covid-19 bullshit too, but there is no silver lining, there is no hero that will come in at the last minute and end this, and even *if* a vaccine is shown to be effective, it will be at least a year before it is widely available and we can *start* the process of getting back to whatever “normal” will be once this is all over.

But I can’t help but wonder – how soon will we have to ration hospital care for Covid-19 patients? Don’t be surprised if you hear about this starting in a few weeks as we scream past 100,000 new positive cases each day.

Be smart. Stay home. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Please, please please cancel your Halloween parties this weekend. Cancel your Thanksgiving plans with your family. Hell, you probably should plan on your Xmas gatherings not happening, too.

Sometimes shit just sucks, and this is one of those times. But the harder the suck, the quicker it will be over.

Thanks for reading! You may also enjoy these other posts:

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Cover image via World Of Meters as of October 30, 2020.

Written by Dan Broadbent

Science Enthusiast. Atheist. Lover of cats.




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