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Concerned about capacity: Utah's low number of hospital beds

Posted at 5:50 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 19:50:08-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Dr. Michael Good of the University of Utah says hospitals can handle seasonal flu because of long-built immunity, vaccines, and effective anti-viral drugs, but if COVID-19 reached flu-like numbers, the results would be devastating.

“Coronavirus is a new organism. We haven't seen it before and so we do not have immunity in our individuals and in communities,” said Good. “Communities that do not prepare get hit by a tsunami.”

Utah has 1.8 hospital beds for every 1,000 residents, well below the national average of 2.4, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Utah’s low number of residents over 65 could help, lowering the number of most vulnerable patients, but those hospital beds could still get overwhelmed without effective intervention.

Italy has 3.2 hospital beds for every 1,000 residents, China has 4.3 and South Korea has 12.3 according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.