SAN DIEGO — The County of San Diego released COVID-19 projections Wednesday that showed local hospital beds will be filled up by either April or May, unless social distancing is taken seriously.
The prediction is the result of an “extremely simplified” model based on two scenarios: one where the number of COVID-19 patients doubles every three days, and the other where the number doubles every six days.
In the first scenario, San Diego county would run out of non-federal hospital beds by mid-April. In the second scenario, non-federal hospital beds run out in May.
As of Wednesday night, the county had a total of 297 positive COVID-19 cases and two people have died. Due to a lack of testing availability, however, the county’s actual number of COVID-19 cases could be in the thousands.
Of the known cases, “Almost 20% were hospitalized, almost 9% required intensive care, and almost one percent have died,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, the county’s medical director of epidemiology.
The county's model assumes all hospital beds would be available for COVID-19 patients, “which is not true,” according to Dr. McDonald.
County officials emphasized the number of available non-federal hospital beds could be increased by postponing elective procedures and other interventions.
“The number of available beds will, in fact, go up,” McDonald said, perhaps by as much as 40%. Local military hospitals also could ease the burden.
“We know we have Naval hospitals here and a VA hospital here, so that line is a little higher,” said Dr. McDonald.
“What you are doing in your homes by eliminating non-essential activities and doing social distancing” will have an effect and “we need to keep with it,” McDonald said.